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Episode 20 – Stock Races

Today Zachary, Kevin, and Seth discuss how to use the stock races in other worlds.

We would like to thank The 8-bit Guy for his generous donation of the music, “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22

We would like to thank our friend podcast “StoriumArc” which can be found at https://storiumarc.com and “Let’s go to the ring!” which can be found at https://lets-go-2-the-ring.cast.rocks/

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Blindless of Pelor – Episode 3- What Lies Beneath

Today our Heros start their journey to the temple of Pelor and encounter some of the white-band-eight who stand in their way.

We would like to thank Joseph McDade for his generous donation of the music, “Glacial Wave” his website can be found here:
https://josephmcdade.com

We would also like to thank our friend podcasts, Storium Arc and Let’s Go to the Ring, they can be found here at www.storiumarc.com and www.lg2tr.com

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Blindless of Pelor – Episode 2 – White band aides and where to find them

Today our heroes work to purify a temple that has been taken over by the “White band 8” or “white band aides” as they like to call them!

We would like to thank Joseph McDade for his generous donation of the music, “Glacial Wave” his website can be found here:
https://josephmcdade.com

We would also like to thank our friend podcasts, Storium Arc and Let’s Go to the Ring, they can be found here at www.storiumarc.com and www.lg2tr.com

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Blindless of Pelor – Episode 1- Come together so everyone gets a kenku encounter

This is the kickoff episode of our campaign, “The Blindless of Pelor”. Today our heroes gather after kenku encounters at a mysterious mansion.

We would like to thank Joseph McDade for his generous donation of the music, “Glacial Wave” his website can be found here:
https://josephmcdade.com

We would also like to thank our friend podcasts, Storium Arc and Let’s Go to the Ring, they can be found here at www.storiumarc.com and www.lg2tr.com

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Zal’adore – Episode 2 – Secrets Revealed

Sitting in the Tavern our heroes see a collaborator in a racketeering scheme in Greshold and take action.

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Zal’adore – Episode 1 – A Genasi, an elf, and an “elf” walk into a bar

Holy cow! We are back, after some time we have come back for a new set (one of two). We introduce a new placer this game and a brand new world! Today Our characters all arrive at the town of Greshold where a bounty has been placed onthe capture of the corrupt mayor who has somehow stopped the Goliath Raids!

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Episode 19 – Guildmaster’s guide to Ravnica

Episode19

Today Kevin, Seth, and Zachary do an overview of the “Guildmaster’s guide to Ravnica”

We would like to thank The 8-bit Guy for his generous donation of the music, “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22

We would like to thank our friend podcast “StoriumArc” which can be found at https://storiumarc.com and “Let’s go to the ring!” which can be found here

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New Season coming!

We are currently working on the recording and editing of the new season! With the new season comes exciting new changes!

  • A new cast member!
  • Named Episodes
  • A brand new world called Zal’adore

Stay tuned for the new episodes as they are released!

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Gith Live Play – Final Part 2

In our final Episode of the “Children of Gith” series, our heroes having had their ship transform due to the amount of flying snakes that are on bord into a giant kiju fight an ancient red dragon and have a final showdown with Gith herself.

We would like to thank The 8-bit Guy for his generous donation of the music, “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22

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Episode 18 – Season 1 Wrap up

Today Kevin, Zachary, and Seth discuss the wrapping up of the two campaigns. Topics discussed are the massive technical issues that plagued Kevin’s “Companions” campaign, some stumbles by both GMs, and favorite moments between the games.

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Gith Live Play – Final Part 1

Today our Heroes begin their fight to re-capture Gith after freeing her upon the multi-verse.

We would like to thank The 8-bit Guy for his generous donation of the music, “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22

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Gith Live Play Episode 3 – Part 7

Today Our Heroes work to prove they are worthy of the teacher to assist them in freeing Gith

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Gith Live Play Episode 3 – Part 6

Today our heroes hitch a ride on a Dragon, to go where they must face six challenges to prove their worth for assistance in freeing Gith

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Gith Live Play Episode 3 – Part 5

Today our Heroes find the mysterious “Tradailia”, can she be trusted?

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Gith Live Play Episode 3 – Part 4

Holy Cow! Two weeks in a row with published Episodes!! Today our Heroes wake up to find a Yuanti watching over them as they sleep. They soon fine a large six headed beast, how will they survive?

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Gith Live Play Episode 3 – Part 3

Today our heroes fight a terrifying vampire on the plane of Tytherian!

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Gith Live Play Episode 3 – Part 2

In our last post of the year our heroes find themselves negotiating in Tytherian with one of the former lords of the nine hells. They are compelled to free Gith and are trying to locate her prison.

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Website Updates

We are currently working on some website updates as we prepare for our new set of campaigns! We are hoping to be able to add the character backgrounds (Thorival’s from the “Children of Gith” is up and being worked on as we speak!) so you can view the characters you follow in the games.

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Gith Live Play Episode 3 – Part 1

Today our heroes find themselves in the first layer of hell and Tytherion

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New Episodes Coming

Sorry for the delays but we had a bit of a move on our hands (in real life) getting more episodes created and ready to go!

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Gith Live Play Episode 2 – Part 5

Today our her’s fight the against Hope and Dread’s mother in Wraith form

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Gith Live Play Episode 2 – Part 4

Today our heroes find themselves attacking an undead that seems to recognize Hope and Dread

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Episode 17 – Our favorite Xanathar Classes

Today Kevin, Seth, and Zachary talk about their favorite sub-classes from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

 

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Gith Live Play Episode 2 – Part 3

Today our hers find themselves in an unknown city and in a museum dedicated to “The Six”, those heroes of the past who had freed Gith from her imprisonment.

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Gith Live Play Episode 2 – Part 2

 

Today our hers after finding themselves in a strange and unfamiliar city attempt to locate the astral galleon.

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Gith Live Play Episode 2 – Part 1


Today our Heroes venture from Farwall in search of an Astral Galleon!
We would like to thank The 8-bit Guy for his generous donation of the music, “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22

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They’ve Got Class: Winter Moon

Hello all, and welcome to a new Segment called “They’ve got Class.” In this segment we focus on either a class or a subclass and try to parse out what makes it unique and what it does well, particularly what it does well in contrast to other options within the same class if it is a subclass.

 

In Japanese Folklore, the wolf is a symbol of winter, and with so little humidity in the night sky in the Northern hemisphere during the winter months, the Moon shines particularly brightly, even lighting up the landscape if there is a coating of snow and turning trees coated in ice into wondrous chandeliers. So in honor of the moon and the glories of the winter landscape and their associations with a vicious predator, today is as good a day as any to talk about the circle of the Moon Druids.

 

Druids are one of the spellcasting classes in 5e and have a wide variety of spells, both offensive and defensive that they can use to aid their allies or devastate their enemies. Circle of the Moon druids are somewhat different in that their wild shape form is far more useful than it is to other kinds of druids.

 

Most druids have strict limitations behind their wild shape options, which means the effectiveness of their animal forms quickly is eclipsed by their probable opponents as they reach higher levels. A Circle of the moon druid has the option to take an animal as high as CR 6 with a fly or swim speed, making them effective combatants in these forms for considerably longer. Furthermore, attacks in beast form become magical after level 6, thus rendering druids very effective physical fighters in a similar way to monks.

 

So why would you want to play a circle of the moon druid.

 

The stat reasons.

 

  1. You can spend less time on the physical stuff: If you are playing smart as a Circle of the Moon Druid, you’ll be spending a lot of time in your beast form. Combined with stronger forms, the high dexterity, strength, and constitution scores of many beasts will mean that because such stats replace your own, you will get to focus more on your mental stats. In addition, high CR forms have a significant number of hp which will translate into a source of temporary hp for yourself. This supplements the lackluster druid hp bonus and growth. You also have the ability to spend spell slots in order to restore hp. This is particularly useful as you will not be casting spells in beast form until very high levels.
  2. More exotic forms: Druids of the circle of the moon can become elementals starting at level 10, thus allowing them stronger and more varied physical attacks, opening fire if they become a fire elemental, and also giving them a number of resistances and protections, depending on which form they take. By doing this, a druid can gain immunity to petrification, prone, poisoning, and many other forms of attack that might be dangerous to many other party members. Also being able to squeeze through one-inch openings or having an earth elemental’s enormous strength is always helpful.

 

  1. magical physical attacks: This feature that druids of the circle have above level six means that they can battle creatures such as many devils, undead, golems, and even elementals with ease. In some cases, the fighter might have to step aside as the druid, in the form of an elk charges the wraith. You essentially have built-in magical weapons which helps against many of the more dangerous monsters in the game.
  2. Self-healing: With your ability to heal yourself while in wild shape using spell slots, you will be able to function without needing the help of a cleric, bard, or other druid. You can use spells, no matter what you have prepared to keep you up and fighting thus allowing your allies to direct their efforts elsewhere.
  3. The final ability you get from this subclass allows you to cast the alter self spell. This makes you a powerful and useful tool even when you are not in beast form.

 

The flavor stuff.

 

  1. If you play humorously, having a wider assortment of animal forms allows for more animal humor. Although we are not recording a playtest session. We’re doing, I’m playing a hobgoblin druid who is taking the form of a dire wolf and we are making a lot of silly dog jokes about it, and just imagining an enormous wolf doing puppy things is really funny.
  2. If you want to be a really scrappy druid who gets right in the thick of things rather than being a quiet and reserved protector of nature, this is a subclass for you.
  3. Perhaps your constant time spent as an animal flows over into your humanoid life and if you want to play someone who is rather feral, this might be a good fit.
  4. If you’d like to explore the primal nature of the world on a level with your powers many other druids don’t, the ability to turn into an elemental really suits that.
  5. If you want to demonstrate that your time as a druid is changing you fundamentally, using the alter self ability you get at level 14 is a good way of describing that.

 

Ideas for what kinds of characters could be represented by this subclass…

 

Druids of the moon embrace the full animalistic side of nature and also are focused on change and embracing the wild itself. Here are a few concepts you could go for a basic character concept, either as a PC or NPC to use this subclass.

 

  1. Some sort of super-lycanthrope or someone with lycanthropic ancestry that also has magical talents.
  2. A feral child of the forest.
  3. A shaman of a large band of Barbarians who revere a wide array of animal totems.
  4. Someone who understands animals on a fundamental level and who has worked in a menagerie, zoological garden, gladiatorial arena, or laboratory where transmutation magic was researched.
  5. Someone with ties to the outer plane of the Beastlands.
  6. A descendant or chosen of a god of nature, particularly a violent one.

 

That’s all for now, let us know what you think and I eagerly wait to see you again.

 

About the Author:

Zachary ruffing is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and is running “Children of Gith” for the party. He lives with his two dire wolves and enjoys bad movies and good books. If he could wild shape he says he’d most like to be a dire emu, or failing that, a dire penguin, or in the last option, a dire rhea.

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Episode 16 – Liches


Today Kevin, Seth, and Zachary discuss the Lich

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Expanding the Adventure: The Shame of the Frost Giant Jarl

Expanding the adventure.

 

The shame of the Frost Giants

 

Hello all and welcome to another installment of “Expanding the Adventure,” a segment where I provide a little something extra you could add to a published adventure from WotC to spice things up and give your adventurers something new to do. If they’ve read the adventure or if they’ve simply played it before, they might have everything planned so this is for if you want to surprise them a bit.

 

Today I want to contend with a classic D&D adventure as it is only about 10 degrees outside. This adventure is “The Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl” from “Against the Giants.” As it was presented in “Tales from the Yawning Portal.” I know I might be treading on sacred ground here for some of you but for some of you guys, and for you I must apologize. But if you others are willing to look at something cool you might do, or at least something different, keep reading.

 

I have a soft spot for several ice and winter-themed monsters in D&D and I have to admit that Frost giants are my favorites of the basic 6 kinds of true giants. The fact that they are so much like stereotypical Vikings and they are so incredibly loud and violent just warms my heart. I also found that they had one of the most interesting alternate versions of their kind in “Volo’s Guide to Monsters.”

 

As battle prowess is key to frost giant society, some frost giants try to cheat their way to the top and form a bond with Vaprak, a deity of trolls. This gives the terrifyingly adept combat abilities of a frost giant even more ability to terrorize players as the frost giant also has the ability to regenerate like a troll. However, in forsaking Thrym, the frost giant in question is performing a major act of blasphemy.

 

The frost giant part of the adventure is a difficult dungeon crawl that requires a lot of strategy. The players have to find their way into the fire giant halls either by sneaking past or if that doesn’t work, judiciously fighting past the guards. Perhaps trying the following will give the players something else to do.

 

Should the players want a diplomatic option, the Jarl might allow them safe passage if they end a particular threat to his rule. Though monstrous and blasphemous, the troll-infused frost giant is probably more than a match for the Jarl in question, so he will allow the players to pass through the rift if they can find such a frost giant and eliminate it. For the combative players, the Jarl will still have to put up token resistance, but many of the monsters and such will stand down.

 

The players will have to investigate the complex in the glacier and find out which frost giant is the one who has dedicated himself or herself to Vaprak. This turns a typical dungeon crawl into a role-playing heavy and social encounter. False positives will of course throw the Jarl and his men into a rage, so the players will have to act carefully. Either select the guilty frost giant on your own or assign it randomly somehow by for example checking all the rooms that might have adult frost giants in them, selecting one of those rooms, and then selecting a giant from there if there are more than one.

 

The players not only must find the giant they are searching for, but they must expose him or her somehow, otherwise they are likely to get swamped by the giant’s angry friends. Perhaps making the giant regenerate in public, grow a second head as they sometimes can do, or find a hidden holy symbol in their possession to someone other than Thrym could all work. At that point the players will have to go and take down this giant.

 

This special giant is considerably more powerful than normal frost giants and so if you have this fight, perhaps lessening or even removing other monsters from the combat encounter in that area might be wise. Consider how strong your party is, how readily they have access to fire or acid, how much trouble they have had or have not had with the rest of the dungeon, and how many resources you think they’ll need in the latter parts of “Against the Giants.”

 

It is up to you to decide whether the Jarl holds to his bargain as frost giants are neutral evil in alignment, but if they go to all the trouble of revealing the threat and destroying it, you ought to make the crawl here if you continue it a little easier.

 

There are a few places the players might get clues.

 

  1. The Giant ice toads might have seen a giant regenerating quickly somewhere. This is also true of the slaves or maybe even the entrapped storm Giant.
  2. In some of the storage rooms or in some of the clothing the giants have, there might be an odd holy symbol. Perhaps put one in one of the giant bags scattered throughout this dungeon and when the players find that bag, they have to figure out which giant it belongs to.

 

I hope this might make the “Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl.” A bit more surprising and interesting for your characters and players should you decide to use this in the future. I hope to provide you with many more interesting things to play in in the future.

 

About Zachary.

 

Zachary was the first and is now one of the two DMs for Companions of the Perception Check and is running the “Gith” campaign for the party currently. He lives with his two dogs and loves great books and terrible movies.

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Episode 15 – Oh the Humanity!


In today’s Episode Kevin, Seth, and Zachary discuss Humans in D&D.

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Word Creation – Part 2

Another feature you need to look to in world building is how the gods are represented in your world, if there are even gods at all. You can have a multitude ways they are there or not there. In the word of Dark Sun there are no gods and magic is derived from either the Sun or through magic bestowed through the Dragon. In the world of Dragonlance the gods disappeared for several hundred years and there was not “cleric” or healing magic available. In the world of the Forgotten Realms the gods are alive and well and in face have gone through several iterations of how they interact. Currently in the Forgotten Realms the gods do not directly influence the world but they can do thing through augers and grant their clerics/warlocks extra magical powers.  That is the current state of the gods I am going to use for my world. There are gods, you can gain their favor but they do not directly appear…except perhaps in some extenuating circumstances. The pantheon is going to be the same as it was in the Realms/Points of Light. From here it should be easy to create a cleric or warlock class as well as use the gods in story telling to move the plot further.

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Episode 14 – Dragonborn


Today Kevin, Zachary, and Seth discuss the Dragonborn in D&D.

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Gith Live Play Episode 1 – Part 8

Today our heroes run into several Devils after defeating the Ghouls that attacked in the night.
We would like to thank The 8-bit Guy for his generous donation of the music, “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22

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Episode 13 – Half Elf


Today on Episode 13, Kevin, Seth, Zachary, and Tina discuss the Half-Elf race in D&D. Further information on Kevin’s view of the “Half Elf Ranger” can be found here on this post:

Half-Elf Ranger – An Overused Trope?

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World creation – Part 1

I have played my entire D&D game time within pre-made worlds. I started in the Points of Light Setting when i started playing ~5 years ago in 4e with Zachary and Tina. From there we moved into the Forgotten Realms when we moved to 5e and added Michael, Megan, Seth, and Kim, although recently (if you listen to our adventures) have gone back to the Points of Light. Continue reading

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Gith Live Play Episode 1 – Part 7

Today our Heroes stop to rest in the tunnels after defeating the Gnollish presence within the tunnels, however not all is as it seems.
We would like to thank The 8-bit Guy for his generous donation of the music, “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22

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Gith Live Play Episode 1 – Part 6

Today our heroes continue their fights with the gnolls in the tunnels near Farwall, with Hope Possessed by a ghost determined to complete its mission in life.
We would like to thank The 8-bit Guy for his generous donation of the music, “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22

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Episode 12- Aging and Maturation

Today Kevin, Zach, Seth, Megan, Kim, and surprise guest baby Gwen discuss aging and maturation between the various races in D&D. Please note that we did try a new editing scheme for this podcast so some of the audio is silenced due to feed back.

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Gith Live Play Episode 1 – Part 5

Today our heroes continue their fights with the gnolls in the tunnels near Farwall, with Hope Possessed by a ghost determined to complete its mission in life.
We would like to thank The 8-bit Guy for his generous donation of the music, “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22

 

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Gith Live Play Episode 1 – Part 4

Today, in the “Children of Gith” campaign our Heroes explore the ruins near Fallcrest and assist the cleric of Ioun in finding new information from the ruins.
We would like to thank The 8-bit Guy for his generous donation of the music, “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22

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Half-Elf Ranger – An Overused Trope?

All tropes have a genesis, in the fantasy realm for the Half-Elf Ranger that genesis from, what I can gather, Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. From here the H-ER (Half-Elf Ranger) seems to have become a Fantasy trope that is placed into the genre with reckless abandon. I do admit that adding a H-ER makes sense from the point of view that Half Elves do not fit in well with either Humans or Elves. With the humans they live too long to fit in to society and with elves…well that is a whole different post but most Elves are fairly snobbish when it comes to their bloodlines and do not like half-elves. Even if that were not the case most Elves live to be 500+ years.

This plays out through many different Fantasy lines, such as Tanis Half-Elven, who first appeared in the book Dragons of Autumn Twilight that was the first book of the Dragonlance setting for D&D. Granted, in these series of books we are essentially dropped into the middle of a story that unfolds as the “War of the Lance” we learn that he is born of an Elven mother by a human father, the accounts differ on the circumstances of his birth, however either way he was an outcast to the elves for most of his life and as a Ranger, in principle if not in canon.

It is not to say these types of characters do not have their places, however the use of them as part of the core “hero” or “saviors” groups tend to be played out. There are many other ways you can incorporate “outcasts” or even Half-Elves into a story setting without falling into a trope of the H-ER. You could use a character who is a ranger because they had an issue in the past caused them to leave society, this can be good as you could discuss it with the GM to use that to draw the character into situations where they would be forced to either confront their past with a revelation to the whole group or work against the group to try and keep it a secret.

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Gith Live Play Episode 1 – Part 3

Today, in the “Children of Gith” campaign our Heros finish their 6 week rest in Fallcrest and start to explore tunnels in ruins around the city.
We would like to thank The 8-bit Guy for his generous donation of the music, “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22

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Episode 11 – Tieflings

Today, Zachary, Seth, and Kevin discuss the Tiefing race from the Player’s Handbook.

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Race Card: Tabaxi

Hello all! Welcome to another segment of “Race Card.” This is a segment in which I discuss one of the Player Races in D&D, a subrace, or a general concept behind race in general.

 

Right now I’m watching my sister’s cat until we can find it a good home. With the little girl following me everywhere and making her presence a constant thing, I thought I would talk about Tabaxi today.

 

Tabaxi are one of the races released in Volo’s Guide to Monsters as a new race for players to mess around with. With the popular craze in cat-people and anime that continues to go strong, many would find these humanoids a welcomed player race. Tabaxi are taller than people, but like cats, they are graceful and lithe, looking like cats that walk upright.

 

As to stats, Tabaxi have a number of abilities that make them very useful. The first among these is their high dexterity, which suits them well to many classes, especially monk, ranger, and rogue. The second is that tabaxi have retractable claws, just like actual cats, this gives them an unarmed strike-like ability that deals slashing, rather than bludgeoning damage. Whether the tabaxi is somehow assailed when they have no weapons or you just want a new type of damage for your monk, the claws give you some nice flexibility and some elbow room in the always-unfortunate situations when you are caught without equipment.

 

Also, Tabaxi can move like the wind. Besides being fast, they can move double their speed if they go for one turn without moving. Tabaxi have a respectable moving speed, but if you combine this with other abilities such as the increased movement that monks get, you can spatially dominate a battlefield, having unbelievable movement and mobility. Move into melee; spend a couple rounds taking something out, then dash out of it with the tabaxi’s quick movement and plow right into your next target. The ability favors aggressive skirmishing, though it can also be used to keep casters safe when the battle starts to move their way and they need to move. The ability however doesn’t work for heavy armor so the ability is not as useful for classes such as fighters, clerics, and paladins, though depending on how you build those characters, it may still come into play if you play a more lightly-armored version of those classes, which is definitely something you could do.

 

As for the Roleplaying aspect of tabaxi, they have a lot to interest the role-player. For one thing, they are exceptionally rare which means they will encounter a sort of strangeness from others wherever they go. This will extend both ways as well. Tabaxi generally keep to themselves so an elven enclave, Dwarven hold, or massive cosmopolitan city will astound them where other more common races might feel more jaded.

 

There is more to tabaxi than this. They are described as being curious and persistent but also fickle, much like cats tend to be. Tabaxi have an innate drive to explore and learn, and their culture often keeps that focus narrow. However, this narrow focus constantly shifts and thus a tabaxi trying to learn local fairy tales one day might be trying to learn about mining equipment the next. If you want to play a character that is lovably quirky, tabaxi are for you. Their quirkiness also extends to a habit of fidgeting with things they find, also, much as a cat does with a ball of yarn or a leaf or piece of string. If you like cats, you can be one in behavior as well as appearance if you want and so cat lovers rejoice that these creatures exist.

 

I’ll be honest and I’m not much of a cat person, but the Forgotten Realms offers a slightly different tabaxi aspect than do other campaigns. As mentioned in Volo’s guide to Monsters, in the Realms, tabaxi come from the continent of Maztica, a setting formerly its own campaign with a strong mezzo-American feel to it. Among long-gone civilizations, I personally have a strong liking for the Aztecs, and so if I played a tabaxi in this setting, I would definitely keep that up. Tabaxi tend to have names that frankly sound like American Indian surnames after translation, and I would personally try to do that but keep the names in something that was either Nahuatl or something fake that sounded similar. In this setting anyone who liked the Aztecs, Mayans, or Olmecs would also find something to like.

 

Anyway, I’m going to put the cat out and give it a little milk and catnip while you think of how you might want to use these wonderful cat creatures as players, or perhaps just refine their usage with you and your group. See you later.

 

About the Author:

Zachary Ruffing is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and is currently running his homemade “Children of Gith” storyline. He likes classic lit, bad sci-fi and horror movies, and the company of his rat and 2 dogs. The cat he’s watching has no interest in the rat, though the cowardly little girl is still terrified.

 

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Episode 10 – The Sorcerer

Today Kevin, Zachary, and Seth discuss the Sorcerer class.

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Episode 9 – The Ranger

Today, Kevin, Zachary, and Seth discuss the Ranger class from the Player’s Handbook.

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Freestyle Friday: Fireworks

Hello all! Welcome to another Freestyle Friday. Here in America it’s getting close to the 4th of July. That means it is the day we celebrate the birth of our country by blowing up a small part of it. Fireworks are fun and so I thought I would come up with some fireworks you can use in your games.

 

As with all Freestyle Friday content, it is not tested and is made up off the top of my head. Here are a few of the things I came up with.

 

Bugbear Sparkler (uncommon)

 

This item is for all intents and purposes a Morningstar. However it deals fire damage instead of bludgeoning. Also, if you are disarmed while using it, you suffer a hit as though the item was used against you, without strength or proficiency modifiers. This item also sheds light within a 15 foot radius and bright light within 5 feet. It is destroyed if it gets wet.

 

Hell Candle (rare)

 

A Hell candle is about six inches long and fires a firebolt spell once every round for 1 minute. It can be wielded simply by being held. The player then may make an attack roll with it each round, adding their dexterity modifier to the attack but not any proficiency bonus. The level of the firebolt cantrip should not be any more than 5 and should ideally be only the level 1 version.

 

Earneedle (uncommon.)

 

These count as thrown weapons, they do no damage but let out a loud popping noise when thrown. When they hit the ground, having an effective range of 10/30 all creatures within five feet of them must make a con save of (dc 12) or be deafened for 1 minute (the save is repeatable each round.) The earneedles come in packs of 20.

 

Ehkak Jar (uncommon.)

 

This jar has a small fuse that can be lit, it can then be rolled or thrown (10-30 feet) at which point it begins to put out an obscuring smoke that blocks darkvision and even devil sight. Any creature directly on the same space as the jar must make a dc 13 constitution save or use their action that turn hacking and coughing.

 

Happy crossbows (very rare)

 

These paper crossbows have a container and can only be used once. They fire a level 5 fireball (DC 14) if they are used properly. When used, roll a d4. On a 1, the paper crossbow breaks and the fireball is centered on the user.

 

Signal rockets (uncommon.)

 

These rockets come in a wide variety of colors and are usually used by militias and armies. However, some societies use them as celebratory rockets as well. When lit with a fire or fire spell, 2 rounds later the rocket rises, exploding as a level 3 fireball high up in the air (about 70 feet.) If fired horizontally the rockets rise anyway 10 feet for every 30 feet traveled and are 10% likely to explode on launching.

 

Fountains of the sun (very rare)

 

These fireworks launch a colorful fountain of flames and sparks, effectively casting the “wall of fire) spell when used. There is a 25% chance that any fountain of the sun used is a shrieker and will be heard by any creature that can hear within 300 feet.

 

Flaming Shriekers ((uncommon.)

 

These small mushroom-shaped fireworks produce a small amount of light but produce a lot of noise. When lit, the shrieker will emit a loud piercing scream for 1 minute after a waiting time of 3 rounds. It can be heard for 300 feet in all directions by all creatures that can here.

 

That’s all I got for you this fireworks-using season. Hope you like what I’ve made and can use it in your campaigns. And also here’s hoping you end the 4th of July season with as many fingers as you started with. Until next time, I’ll be seeing you.

 

About the Author.

Zachary Ruffing is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and he is running the “Children of Gith” campaign for the group. He lives happily with his dogs and rat and he loves classic lit, bad sci-fi and horror flicks, and writing. He knows fireworks are safer than this article makes them seem, because the 3-fingered man across the state line told him the real story.

 

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Gith Live Play Episode 1 – Part 2

In Today’s Adventure Our team continues their Six week rest in Fallcrest. We would like to thank David Murray aka the 8-bit guy for his donation of “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here: www.youtube.com/user/adric22

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Gith Live Play Episode 1 – Part 1

Today we start the Gith Campaign with Zachary as GM, our Heroes are taking a break after defeating the Mind Flare’s nest.We would like to thank David Murray aka the 8-bit guy for his donation of “Squarewave delight” his channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22

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Expanding the Adventure: Lesser Dragons

Hello again and welcome to another one of our features. Today we have a feature of “Expanding the Adventure.” In this segment, we dive into published adventures and look for ways in which more can be added to an adventure or ways you could bring the adventure into new directions.

 

In past editions of Dungeons and Dragons, Metallic and Chromatic dragons were always the big bads in the adventures or major allies when they weren’t. However, there were other families of dragons in the history of the game. Two of my favorite types were the gem dragons and the catastrophic dragons that were introduced in 4th edition. Today I want to offer ways you could insert these into the conflict of Tyranny of Dragons, particularly the “Rise of Tiamat,” adventure.

 

As things currently stand, these dragons have not been statted for quite some time and neither of them have been updated officially for the 5e rules. Here are some ideas on how you could make them up using existing dragons.

 

  1. Gem Dragons and catastrophic dragons were weaker than the more famous kinds of dragons, so for any age category, you might want to base their stats off of some of the weaker dragons in that age category or even drop to the next one down.
  2. Gem dragons had their own breath weapons that were very unusual and included things such as the beam of concentrated light from the amethyst dragon and the dehydration beam from the topaz dragon. If you can’t find out what they originally used, go weird!
  3. Catastrophic dragons did not have conventional breath weapons. They had expanding auras that eventually blasted out in a big burst centered on themselves. Instead of a breath weapon, perhaps have them cast a spell around themselves that is area of effect but does not hurt them. For example, have a volcanic dragon have stinking cloud cast on itself and then it can cast a weakened version of fireball on itself on a recharge.
  4. Gem dragons tend to be neutral, and in the 4e alignment system, catastrophic dragons tended to be “unaligned,” which could either translate to neutral alignments or evil if you read the descriptions of them in the published material for the edition. Catastrophic dragons don’t have conventional bodies but are flowing raw destructive elements in a vaguely draconic shape.

 

Here are two ways you could bring these into Rise of Tiamat as factors in the conflict.

 

A Third Rage.

 

This is an option inspired by the “Year of Rogue Dragons.” Novels in which an ancient elven curse drove dragons mad. Because in the days of the draconic empire, even the metallics were part of the tyrannical oppression, the curse didn’t discriminate. The novels ended the threat but perhaps the Cult of the Dragon has found the secret and is planning to use it to bolster its own ranks. This would be fitting as the Cult of the Dragon in an earlier iteration was fundamentally involved in that story. The Cult could simply be just releasing the curse. Because Metallics are by and large followers of Bahamut, perhaps they enjoy partial or total protection from the curse. Being not naturally good, gem dragons don’t enjoy this protection. The heroes are to infiltrate a set of ruins being used as a quarters for a powerful Dragonborn sorcerer. This guy or girl is blessed with unusually thick green dragon traits and is using his increased craftiness and connection to dragons to work the curse. You have to stop him before it is too late.

 

The sorcerer is an archmage with the following alterations

 

He has the breath weapon feature of green-dragon descendant dragonborn and also their resistance to poison

  1. He has resistance to 2 of the following, rolled randomly each round a. fire b. lightning c. cold, d. acid
  2. He has magic resistance.
  3. he has actual wings and has a fly speed of 50 feet.
  4. He is Neutral evil in alignment
  5. he speaks common, draconic, primordial, elven, and infernal.
  6. he uses a shortsword instead of a staff or dagger. And is proficient with it.

 

The players must destroy both the sorcerer and the device he is creating to restart the rage in a more directed form.

 

  1. The elements fight for the Dark Lady.

 

According to the 4e material, catastrophic dragons were formed when metallic and chromatic dragons turned away from the battling twins (Tiamat and Bahamut) and sought power from primordial beings. These wicked primordials destroyed most of their flesh, turning them into raging torrents of raw elemental destruction and released them upon the world. Tiamat might want to reclaim beings of such power for herself, and she knows exactly how to do it.

 

The Cult of the Dragon has entrusted its most powerful wizards to find a way to funnel the fury of these destructive beings, hopefully then having a reserve for the battle they know will happen when they release Tiamat into Toril. The results were that a Githzerai psychic stone was discovered that could be used to impose order onto chaos. It would attract any beings to it who were manifestations of pure chaos and thus simply putting it among enemies would send a torrent of catastrophic dragons down on them. However, this object has the weakness that it can’t be deactivated and thus the cult has had to find creative ways to control it. What they settled on was keeping it in the elemental Chaos where the raw energies would keep it hidden except in the unlikely event a catastrophic dragon got extremely close while they were not using it.

 

The players will be attacked by one or more relatively weak catastrophic dragons which will put them on the trail of the object. They will then travel to the people who know it best, the githzerai who dwell in the elemental chaos as well as Limbo. The players will then set out in the madness that is the plane of the Elemental Chaos to find where the object is located, and retrieve it for the githzerai who will take it so it cannot be used as an instrument of hated chaos. When the players approach where the focus is hidden, they will go through an elemental gauntlet filled with elementals and their kin, including catastrophic dragons, adepts in elemental magic in service to the cult, and perhaps one or two genies to finish everything off.

 

With these two little adventure ideas, you might be able to introduce something other than the big two families into your playthrough of “Rise of Tiamat.” I love the Metallics and Chromatics, but more options is a better way to go so I hope you enjoy.

 

About the author:

Zachary Ruffing is one of the DMs for “The Companions of the Perception Check” and he is running the “Children of Gith,” Storyline for the group, a campaign of his own design from the “Points of Light,” setting. He lives with his rat and 2 dogs and loves classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror flicks. He is waiting for the worst of all the catastrophic dragons to be statted, the US and UK politics dragon.

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Episode 8 Barbarian

Today Michael, Kevin, and Zachary discuss the Barbarian class.

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Freestyle Friday: Festive Festivals

Hello all and welcome to another Freestyle Friday. It is the start of Memorial Day Weekend in the United States, a day in which we remember those who died in wars in our nation’s past, or even those who simply served. However, unofficially, Memorial Day weekend is a party weekend that kicks off summer here and so I thought I’d give you a couple tables on festivals you could stick into your games.

 

A lot of times, an adventure may center around an event. One of the many types of events that could be would be a festival. Here are 20 ideas for different types of festivals players could encounter and have adventures around in your campaign.

 

  1. Holiday celebrating someone important: such as the birthday of a King or name day of an heir.
  2. holiday festival to local industry: such as a harvest festival in an agricultural community or a holiday commemorating a local guild.
  3. Anniversary day of some major local event.
  4. seasonal holiday
  5. holiday to a particular god
  6. holiday for children.
  7. holiday commemorating a legend or legendary hero/person/monster
  8. day of mourning.
  9. memorial of the dead
  10. holiday whose purpose has been lost to history.
  11. sacrificial or tax day.
  12. day dedicated to a concept such as family or love.
  13. day commemorating a major defeat
  14. day commemorating a major victory.
  15. Racial holiday
  16. gender holiday
  17. day of competitions (athletic or intellectual.)
  18. foolish holiday (where pranks are pulled and stuff such as that.)
  19. day of transition (such as new year)
  20. familial holiday (like Mother’s Day)

 

Those are all ideas for what kind of holiday you could have, but just going to a festival might not be enough to be worthwhile. Here are some things that could happen at one of these holiday festivals that could get an adventure going.

 

  1. prophecy indicates something will happen if particular conditions are met at this festival
  2. prophecy indicates something will happen if conditions are not met at this festival.
  3. attack from within the settlement
  4. attack from outside the settlement.
  5. divine intervention.
  6. planar bleed
  7. outbreak of madness
  8. conspiracy to spread poison
  9. conspiracy to spread disease
  10. kidnapping.
  11. elaborate but dangerous pranks or hoaxes.
  12. threat that might keep the holiday from being celebrated.
  13. Satyr party.
  14. holiday threatens someone else such as good fey or racial minority.
  15. riots.
  16. major theft.
  17. players hired to keep the peace.
  18. doppelganger antics.
  19. disaster such as flood or fire.
  20. players aid in a love affair or family affair.

 

Those are just a few things about festivals and parties you could have your players encounter while you play outside with your grills on Memorial Day. I hope these little suggestions of mine can help you a bit in either giving you something to do or inspiring you to do something else.

 

About the author:

Zachary Ruffing is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and he is running the “Children of Gith” campaign set in the “points of Light” campaign setting. He loves classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror movies. He lives with his rat and 2 dogs. Of all the characters in D&D noxvels, He thinks Havilar from “The Brimstone Angels,” would be the funnest to party with.

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Episode 7 – Monster Types

In Today’s Podcast Kevin, Zachary, and Michael Discuss using Monster Races as Player Characters as put forth in Volo’s Guide to Monsters

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Episode 6 – Bards

Today Kevin, Seth, and Zachary discuss the Bard Class

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Simply Divine: Where are the Gods?

Hello friends! Welcome to another installment of “Simply Divine.” In this segment we discuss aspects of gods, divine spellcasting, and beings of the outer planes. One of our first articles was a Simply Divine article concerning Auril, also known as Lady Frostmantle.

 

I think I made a mistake in doing that when I failed to cover one of the most basic, but most important parts of gods in D&D worlds. To remedy that, the next few Simply divine articles will be not about individual beings or groups of them, but instead we’re going to talk about gods in general and the place of the divine.

 

Today we’re talking about how present the gods are in the world and what that means for your campaign. I normally talk about published settings but in this one I think the homebrewer will get a good bit of info here. Gods in the world could exist in varying degrees of conspicuousness and that means a great deal for how societies work in your game and how religion fits in. Here are some ideas for how that could work….

 

  1. The Gods are immediately present (The Greco-Roman model.)

 

In many worlds, meeting your god or goddess face-to-face is a very real possibility. Although it is no longer the case in the Forgotten Realms, it used to be the case that you might meet Mystra, Tymora, or Bane on your travels in the flesh. In this world, very personal relationships can develop between mortals and gods, including the possibility of demigods being born between unions of the two groups. In these worlds, the existence of the gods is unquestionable, though instances could arise of humans impersonating gods or demigods. Also, because of the actual appearances of gods, everyone knows not only that the gods exist, but which gods are real and which ones are not.

 

  1. Everything has a God “the Pantheist model.)

 

Although the Greco-Roman model is a popular one, there is one in which the gods are even more present. This is the Pantheist model. In this case the world is full of spirits both great and small that inhabit almost every place and almost every object. This is similar to Japanese religion, and also despite the name of the first model, the Greeks and Romans had heavy aspects of this as well. In this world, theoretically druidic religion is much more prevalent and in these worlds, religion is a fundamental part of almost everyone’s lives because of the omnipresent divine forces. This build can easily mix with some of the others.

 

  1. The Godly Manifestation build.

 

In this type of divine build, the gods do not appear in person, but they do interact on the world. Oddly this view also fits how the educated classes in Rome and Greece viewed their gods as most of the educated did not believe the gods actually had shapes in the same sense a human or animal did. The powers of the divine are shown everywhere, such as in the spells of clerics, paladins, and druids, but the gods rarely speak directly and never actually visit the world in person. In this world, the existence of the gods is unquestionable, but individual manifestations are up for interpretation, thus making exactly where a person stands in the case of divine favor or displeasure unclear, even in the case of individual gods. Also, some lines might be blurry between various gods that are similar in portfolio, signs, or personality and this model is the first place where uncertainty creeps in in any significant degree.

 

  1. The Theist world

 

In these worlds, the gods interact with the world only rarely, and never directly. They manifest enough that it is certain that gods exist, but not enough to know much about them. In these worlds, what gods exist and exactly what they do, think, and command are all questions that people have to figure out for themselves. That there are gods is about the only thing that is confirmable about religion here.

 

  1. The Agnostic world.

 

In this world, Divine magic exists theoretically, but the gods are extremely distant to the point where the existence of any or all gods is up for debate. Eberron seems, as I see it, to fall somewhere between the agnostic world and the theistic world. Divine magic exists here, but it may in fact be like Eberron where it is in fact more like a cross between the mental state of the caster and the formulaic casting of a wizard. Here, even the nature of the divine spellcaster’s power is up for debate as to what it is in addition to questions of the gods themselves.

 

  1. The world without gods.

 

In this world, there are no gods. This can be the result of something having driven the gods away or destroying them, such as in the Dark Sun setting. It may also be the case that gods have never existed in the world. If you use this world style, you need to decide if you will allow clerics, paladins, and druids into the world. If you do, you will have to decide how their magic works. I personally, though I am not a huge fan of clerics or paladins, I would be infuriated if I were in a world where I was not allowed to play one. However, if your players are fine with it, go for forbidding those classes.

 

  1. The world is wrong.

 

This is not so much a world type as a modification of one of the others. The others largely assume that the population has the issues right. With this modification, you can say that the world is wrong about it. For example, you could have a world where the gods appear to mortals actually be a world where these individual gods are simply believed to be powerful mortals. Or you could do the reverse and have the populace think incredibly powerful mortals are gods. You could also be less drastic. The gods may appear in person but it is so rare and is always kept secret so the world at large doesn’t believe that happens. You could also have a pantheist world but the lesser spirits who are not full-power gods don’t actually show themselves much.

 

I hope this look into the gods and how the gods can fit into the world is a help to you out there in how you want to use gods in your campaign.

 

About the author:

Zachary Ruffing is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and is running the “Children of Gith” storyline. He enjoys classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror flicks with the company of his rat and 2 dogs. His favorite divine beings are the archdevils in D&D because devils are his favorite monster type.

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Episode 5 – Fey Creatures

In today’s podcast Zachary, Kevin, Michael, and Seth discuss Fey Creatures.

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Freestyle Friday: May Day Mayday

Hello all, Welcome to the 5/5 edition of “Freestyle Friday.” Although Mexico celebrates a major national holiday today, this installment is not about that. In America, Labor Day is the first Monday in September, but in much of the world, there’s an international socialist holiday scheduled around now. Since Labor Day in the United States always falls on a Monday, thus making it out of the realm of Freestyle Friday, I thought today would be a good time to talk about workers, particularly uprisings.

 

If you want to play a large-scale campaign that puts characters into battle, a worker/slave uprising is a good way to do it. First you have to decide the scale. Roll a d8 or consult the following list to decide how big it is.

 

  1. Isolated-local: The uprising has few followers and the uprising is only occurring in a small area.
  2. isolated-nonlocalized: The rebellion has few followers, but it is breaking out in pockets in several places.
  3. minor: localized: A small, yet significant area is caught up in a rebellion with a small but dangerous number of followers.
  4. minor-nonlocalized: small but dangerous numbers of rebels are popping up in various places amounting to several small areas.
  5. major-localized: a very large area is caught up in a rebellion of workers amounting to a serious threat.
  6. major: non-localized: There is a large-scale uprising throughout most of the area without a major leader.
  7. total-localized: the entire region is embroiled in a rebellion in which almost all the workers are taking part, presenting a threat to the society as a whole and having a definite leader or leaders.
  8. total-noncentralized: the entire area is embroiled in a revolt in which almost all the workers take part but have no definite leader. This should be large enough to threaten the society as a whole.

 

At some point, you’re going to have to decide the servile system in place too, and there are a lot of different kinds. Roll on the d10 table or select the one you think is best.

 

  1. Convict slavery: criminals are put to a time of enslavement to pay for their crimes.
  2. serfdom: workers are tied to the land and are transferred to the care of the lord if the land’s ownership is transferred. They are not slaves but must work some for their lords.
  3. racial slavery: A particular race or subrace is slotted to a position of “natural enslavement.” This may accompany a caste system, or it may not.
  4. debt peonage (non-corrupt.): Those who fall into severe debt are enslaved until they do enough work to pay off their debts.
  5. deb peonage (corrupt.): People are enslaved for falling into debt to pay off their debts, the system is meant to keep them in debt indefinitely however to render their theoretically-temporary enslavement permanent.
  6. caste system: Blood determines work and each person is put into some caste of work or leisure based on ancestry.
  7. apprentice system: people go into virtual servitude to professional classes in order to learn a trade but are required to do menial tasks until their studies are complete.
  8. Gendered servitude: The genders in the society are vastly unequal in rights and privileges, making one gender largely the servants of the other.
  9. gerontocracy: Age is a measure of status and thus the young are inherently in a servile position.
  10. indentured-favor system: for some favor from one with money, a person puts oneself into servitude for a set time.

 

Then you have to come up with a reason for the revolt. Roll on the d10 table below or choose the one that you like best.

 

  1. freedom: They simply want to end the servile system.
  2. better conditions: they want an insupportable condition of their existence removed.
  3. upholding current government against outside threat.
  4. upholding government from inside threat.
  5. jockeying position with another class (not going for freedom, just to put themselves above them)
  6. turn society on its head (want to be the masters and reduce their old masters to servitude.)

7 redistribution of wealth.

  1. following a hero.
  2. following a villain such as a false prophet, tyrant, evil spellcaster, or bandit chief.
  3. non-social reason, such as insanity, plague, psychic control, sudden epidemic of lycanthropy, or other problems that do not directly stem from the servile system.

 

Hope if you are not American, you like this nod to socialism, and if you are American, hope you can put these tables to use. Well…. Hoping everyone can use these tables.

 

About the author.

Zachary Ruffing is one of the DMs from “Companions of the Perception check” and is running the “children of Gith” campaign in the “Points of Light” setting. He enjoys the company of his rat and 2 dogs and loves classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror flicks. He is primarily indebted for this article to his comparative history of slavery class he took in college and also Orlando Patterson’s book: “Slavery and Social Death,” one of the most comprehensive and highest-quality books on slavery ever written.

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The Companions Live Play Episode 1-Part 3

Today Our Heroes fend off a Goblin invasion of Hartbuckler;Our Music, “Squarewave Delight”, was provided by David Murray aka “The 8-bit Guy” his Youtube channel can be found here

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The Companions Live Play Episode 1-Part 2

Today our heroes work to keep the town of Heartbuckler safe from goblins and figure out why they are attacking the towns.We have the following Players:GM-Kevin,Trin-Zachary,Lady Casreal- Megan,Anastasya Lanova-Kim,Olgath Chulaga-Seth,Holg-Michael,Dekak – Tina;Our Music was provided by David Murray aka “The 8-bit Guy” his Youtube channel can be found here
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Race Card: Human Hybrids

Hello all welcome to another one of our “Race Card” articles. Last time I talked of why humans were a good race to play, today’s article doesn’t go too far from the human question but today we’re talking about hybrid races and their particular roleplaying opportunities.

 

Chris Perkins recently commented that “humans will sleep with anything,” as an explanation to why there are so many ways humans interbreed with other creatures. There are many ways to make that work for you. Because there’s a lot to discuss and think about with each one. I’ll put out a few suggested questions to think of for hybrid characters to begin with, and then I’ll spend a short time on aspects specific to specific races.

 

  1. Who did you grow up with: If you were the child of two different races, such as an elf and a human or a human and an orc, which parent, if any did you grow up with. A half-orc that grew up with humans in a large city probably isn’t going to turn out the same as a half-orc growing up with orcs. Also, you should think of the possibility of growing up with both parents and what that means for your character’s upbringing. Also, in the case of creatures like Genasi, they might not even know of one of their parents at all, which brings up its own issues.

 

  1. What does hybridization mean for your culture?

 

Depending on the situation of the society where your character was born, their mixed blood might be a blessing or a curse. In general, elves really frown upon half-elves whereas as long as a half-orc can hold their own, they can get by in Orcish society. For some races like Genasi, their blood might actually win them preferential treatment, where an aasimar is regarded as something holy, because in a very real sense, it is. You have to think about what this also means for how your character views their own pedigree, which leads directly into…

 

  1. Does your character express or hide their ancestry?

 

For some races this isn’t really a question. A fire Genasi that actually has fire for hair can’t really hide that as effectively as other races. But some races, for either reasons of trying to fit in, or even reasons of personal safety might not want their natures revealed. Erin Evans, in her first “Brimstone Angels” book, begins the story with a tiefling midwife with sawed horns and a clubbed tail, trying to call as little attention to her race as possible, which largely sets up one of the big questions for Farideh throughout the series as far as I have read. Volo’s Guide to Monsters also states that aasimar, to avoid interference do not like to draw attention to their divine ancestry. The Player’s Handbook also says however, that some Tieflings embrace their infernal heritage and try to draw attention to it, so depending on the nature of your character’s personality; it could easily go in the other direction.

 

  1. Half-elves

 

Do you associate more with humans or elves? This is probably where the main aspect of your self-image will be defined. Also, are you one who embraces elven culture or who wants to be as human as possible? Also, which of your parents was the elf? All of these are particular questions you’ll need to answer.

 

Half-orc

 

Did you grow up among humans or orcs? Also, orcs often take human mates as slaves, so if that is the case, what does the enslavement of your mother or father mean to you. Are they weak or are they sufferers of a great injustice? Also, if you grew up among orcs, what did your greater intelligence mean for you? Conversely, if you grew up with humans, what did the Orcish violent streak or your generally dimmer mind mean for you?

 

Tieflings

 

Tieflings are strictly a hybrid, as their fiendish heritage is really watered down. However, as generally Tieflings are assumed to be part-human by default (though there are other kinds and this is just the default,) I chose to include them here. Tieflings have some of the most obvious signs of their ancestry. Also, most people think their sinister aspects are far more than skin-deep. The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide even states that tieflings are often at actual risk for physical harm when things go wrong in small communities. Was this just a threat for you or did this threat actually materialize at some point. Also, tieflings are often allowed into bad society but very few good-aligned groups welcome them. Did you challenge the status quo and work your way into one of those groups, embrace the evil groups that actually esteemed you, or take a stand as a defiant loner, ignoring those who hypocritically didn’t give you a chance, but not running to the wicked because they think you are special for all the wrong reasons?

 

Aasimar.

 

Aasimar are in a similar position to tieflings in terms of how they actually count as hybrids, and they have some of the same questions surrounding them, but in reverse. An aasimar is seen as a creature of inherent good and thus will be encouraged to join good groups and they will be despised by evil ones. With all this treatment, will the praise go to your head? If you’re an evil Aasimar, how do you react to all the inherent trust put in you? And perhaps are you one that breaks the mold and likes to throw around their divine nature and make it apparent to all? Also, perhaps you want to forge your own path, not evil but not towards any world-spanning good goal either, do you take a defiant route like some tieflings do?

 

Genasi

 

Firstly, for the water Genasi: do you live primarily above or below water? For all: what is the view you have of your elemental nature and what does the local community think of it? How obvious is your elemental manifestation? And finally, are you aware of your elemental parent? Are they aware of you, and if they are, are they in touch? If they are, are they friendly or hostile?

 

I hope this discussion of partial humans and the issues that surround them will help you design characters of these races. The various culture clashes or questions your character, in-world will have to answer can make for rich stories and memorable moments.

 

About the Author:

 

Zachary Ruffing is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and is running the “Children of Gith,” campaign set in the “Points of Light” universe. He enjoys the company of his rat and his two dogs (one of the rats recently died (Rest in Piece St. Catherine.)) His favorite hybrid race in D&D are Tieflings, though Genasi are a close second. Tieflings, however, now have intense resentment towards humans and detest his praise for them.

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Episode 4 – The Cleric

Today Kevin, Seth, and Zachary discuss the Cleric class in D&D

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Freestyle Friday: 8 Easter Eggs

Welcome again to another Freestyle Friday. It’s Good Friday and Easter is two days away. I thought I’d give you guys out there in internet land a little something special for Easter: 8 different ways to place an Easter egg in your game…

 

Easter eggs are little drop-ins that are obscure or are little bits that aren’t extremely important but would be something the viewer, reader, or in this case, the player would recognize and resonate with. Here are 8 little Easter eggs you can use as a DM to entertain your players.

 

  1. Reference a previous campaign: After some old characters have been retired and you know they aren’t going to see active service again, reference those characters or their deeds in chatter the players hear or something they see. If a character was an evil rogue, have someone seeking bounty on them or have a wanted poster up somewhere. The players can’t chase him or her down but just seeing that their old characters are gone (gameplay speaking) but not forgotten can give a little pep.
  2. Reference the player: Sometimes breaking the fourth wall can be pretty cool. Have the player appear in-world or have some characters vaguely reference the player in question. I often do this with myself when I’m DM and make rather self-deprecating remarks, such as saying something like “I’d rather date a balding blind man with a Tracheotomy than help you.”
  3. “Who would do such a thing?” This is where the DM mocks his or her own strategy or gameplay tropes by having a character reference something awful that happened in such a way that there is a double meaning as to whether they are referring to the event or criticizing the DM.
  4. TV Show: reference a TV show the players like by having a character similar to one of the stars or having a situation that is similar. Make sure it is an Easter egg more than one person would get though or it might fall flat. Same with all other Easter eggs.
  5. Politics: This is a thorny one, but a little bit of impersonation and mockery of a political figure is sometimes very funny. Make sure you don’t cross a line and know where your players stand politically. In my group, a hobgoblin that acts like President Trump would get a lot of chuckles and fun, but in a more conservative gaming group it might be considered improper or even offensive.
  6. D&D novels: There are some D&D heroes and heroines from the novels that a group that reads the books could really get behind. Of course most groups would love to meet Driz’zt and Farideh from Brimstone Angels is on my wish list. And dropping those characters in as cameos can be a good little pick-up for your party.
  7. Current events: Like politics, this can be a little tricky and is best avoided if you don’t know your players well enough. But if your players keep track of the news, there’s some great stuff you can pull off. One such example I saw in a livestream made during our last presidential election. It was a tie-in to “Storm King’s Thunder,” and one player said they would put up a wall and make the giants pay for it, echoing one of Trump’s promises on the campaign trail. I particularly liked the egg, but others might not.
  8. Video Games: Similar to TV, Video games offer another way to drop an Easter egg into your games. In addition to characters and bits of reference and story, off-handedly mentioning something that refers to the game mechanics can be a great little additional detail. Like all Easter eggs, you need to make it not so obscure your party won’t get it though. When I could see better and owned a Nintendo 64, one of my favorite games was “Space Station Silicon Valley.” Most reviewers considered it a great game, but I’m the only one who I know who had ever played it or even laid eyes on it, so it’s a bad source for an Easter egg.

So here’s to a good Easter to all of you from The Companions of the Perception Check. I hope to see those of you who aren’t dead from sugar overdose from peeps next week.

 

About the Author:

 

Zachary Ruffing is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and he lives with his 2 dogs and 2 rats. He enjoys classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror flicks. He recently went to town on some Peeps Oreos and is now putting his magical unicorn poop on the market, $300.00 an ounce.

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The Companions Live Play Episode 1-Part 1

Today we Kick off our live play. This series is called “The Companions” where our heroes looking for wealth and fame throughout the default setting of D&D. We have the following Players:
GM-Kevin
Trin-Zachary
Lady Casreal- Megan
Anastasya Lanova-Kim
Olgath Chulaga-Seth
Holg-Michael
Dekak – Tina

Our Music was provided by David Murray aka “The 8-bit Guy” his Youtube channel can be found here

Continue reading

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Race Card: Defense of Humanity

Hello all. Welcome to another Monday feature and today I’m rolling out a new column called “race Card.” This column is dedicated to the playable races of D&D and discusses various aspects of them. Because of the fact this is the first column, I figured I’d go with the most played race in the game: humans.

 

In truth, I’m not a fan for the most part. We have humans of course in the real world so it escapes me why exactly someone would want to be one in-game. Also, they don’t have any cool powers or inherent abilities, so I wonder what their appeal is. Maybe a closer examination of humans will show why they can actually be a very interesting race to play. Even so, I’m not going to change my rule that the first character a new player in my campaigns makes has to be something else. But let’s just say what I can say in defense of the vanilla race.

 

 

 

Humans by the numbers:

 

Humans actually don’t have a lot of interesting powers, but they do have one of the most interesting, if not particularly exciting bonuses. Humans get to add 1 to every single stat at creation. Most other races have a net +2 or +3 to their stats. Thus in basic stat bonuses, the humans are vastly superior to the others.

 

About face on classes: The +1 to everything is definitely a bonus to any player who wants to multiclass. This is particularly odd as in the older game humans were not allowed to do this. If you use the typical spread of stats (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8,) for initial starting stats, you’ve got some actually quite reliable stats for multiclassing. Most multiclassing options require an initial ability score of 13. That said, with the +1 bonus humans get, 4 of those stats are high enough from the start which means the humans in the party can start experimenting early and don’t have any real awkward periods.

 

The Humans’ greatest strength and greatest weakness: There is no stat that gets preferential treatment in the human attribute bonus and thus humans are one of the most adaptable races and can easily be brought into any class. When one plays a tiefling by contrast, the intelligence and charisma bonuses lean tieflings towards bard, sorcerer, and warlock and if you want to be something else, you can manage it, but you’re possibly having to work around having stats that are not as useful. This said, having no real guidance by way of stats can leave you at sea on what you exactly want to do. The same can be said for languages, as humans get to pick while for most other races the language is picked for them.

 

Most of the above are concerned with the power gamer, but there is much to be said for humans even for the role-playing fan.

 

Humans are numerous: In every single world of D&D, humans are the dominant race among the playable races. Sometimes playing in the upper crust in that regard can be interesting. If the campaign centers around some other race such as dwarves or dragonborn. The human that considers his or her own way “normal,” can really be fun to play. Or if not, being “normal” can at least ease stress on a player who struggles getting in the cultural mindset of one of the more exotic races.

 

Humans are us: The reason I don’t like humans is that they are us. I don’t see the appeal of playing a human when I’m a human myself. But there are positives to it as well. Take for example the aarakocra from the Elemental Evil companion. These creatures are weird beings who are obsessed with finding the Rod of Seven Parts and who have no concept of private property. That’s fun RP but it’s also hard to work that from our own perspective. Being a little closer to us with nothing odd really helps humans feel right to a player.

 

Humans can be weird: Being part of a race that lives in all climates and is super-numerous also has its advantages that actually runs up almost paradoxically to the point mentioned above. Unlike most races that have wide-running cultural points that go throughout the entire race or subrace. You don’t get Humans vary most greatly in culture among themselves, meaning that you can have human cultures completely alien, based on real-world civilizations, or anything in between. You don’t have as much a lock-in as you do with dwarves, elves, or others.

 

So I see that there’s a lot of good in humans after all as a race for D&D and I can see how they are actually the most popular race in-game. I’m still going to make new players play other stuff first, but I’m no longer quite as racist against humanity.

 

About the Author:

 

Zachary Ruffing is one of the DMs for “Companions of the perception Check.” He lives with his 2 rats and dogs and enjoys classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror flicks. He has the typical advantages of a human, except he has -1 in all stats.

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Episode 3 – The Monk

Today Kevin, Zachary, and Michael discuss the Monk class in D&D. How it has evolved since 2E and how it is played in 5E. Our Music is “Extreme Action” provided by Bensound.com

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Violence is Not the Answer

Hello all, and welcome to another installment of “Off the Rails.” This column is dedicated to what a DM can do in those events where players trash their plans. Those times can create some of the most memorable moments in gameplay but they are hard to deal with too. Here I try to provide some advice on what a DM can do to push things forward when things go off the rails.

 

One thing I’ve had to deal with before is the problem of players acting with sudden violence in situations where I never dreamed they would. When the players insist on fighting in what you were hoping to be a nonviolent encounter, there are a few ways you can deal with it.

 

  1. Biting off more than they can chew.

 

This method comes into play when you want to discourage combat by making a seemingly easy encounter much harder than the players were ready for. A good way to do this is either give the target of the players’ violence resources that the players didn’t know about such as powerful magical items, hidden servants, or something of that sort, make the creature a shapeshifter that is in fact a much more powerful monster than the players expected, or give the creature stats that make it actually much harder than what they think, such as make a merchant caravan guard in fact a champion from Vollo’s guide to monsters, thus making it a much more powerful opponent. Unless it is essential to keep the target alive, I would advise against this tactic because it’s very ham-handed and it’s rather disrespectful to the choices players make. Also, unless the attack is brought on by supreme stupidity of the heroes, you should leave them a way out of the combat since the battle should be in Deadly territory or at the very least upper end hard for the party.

 

  1. Let the Wicked Prosper.

 

This tactic is basically a means to allow the players to commit the violence they intend in spite of the intention of the encounter, only to have it punish them later. One of my favorite moments was surrounding me employing this technique. The players had identified markings of lizardfolk territory and then had barged into it, despite knowing they were probably safe if they didn’t go that way. They had no reason to go that way, nor were lizardfolk bound up in the real enemies in this adventure. They entered the lizardfolk village and began slaughtering everyone in one of the biggest “what the hell Heroes?” moments I have ever seen. Not one to ruin their fun by forbidding this atrocity, I allowed it to happen. However, much later in the game, the heroes could’ve been set upon by a pack of lizardfolk revenants, seeking revenge for their own brutal killings. It was supposed to be a hard encounter but I don’t remember right now if I wound up using it or not. I think the players came close to where I had the revenants waiting, but they didn’t engage them.

 

  1. Shooting yourself in the foot.

 

Sometimes what needs doing means that someone has to stay alive. Unless you’ve got a giant party with pretty much every utility spell at your disposal, there’s always something your characters will not be able to do. If your players act with too much violence, they might actually make a part of an adventure, or perhaps the whole adventure, much more difficult or even impossible. I haven’t had to employ this one, but I have seen a published work really take advantage of this one.

 

In “Storm King’s Thunder,” there are multiple ways in which the party can acquire a conch of teleportation from a number of giant lords: one for each kind of giant. The cloud giant option plays this deterrent of violence perfectly. The countess Sansuri is an evil cloud giant wizard who keeps her conch in a secret chest. If the party kills her without getting the password to make it appear, they are completely stopped from getting the Conch here and they have to look elsewhere for one, effectively, with the exception of experience point, turning this pivotal point in the adventure into a complete waste of time. Though one could beat Sansuri until she is nearly dead and threaten it out of her, even so, there are more subtle, and far more effective ways to get it. As things stand in that little portion of the story, Sansuri’s a tough fight, and not something players ought to rush into, even if they plan on attacking her directly.

 

Either way, this’ll probably teach your players to keep the swords sheathed and the spells uncast.

 

  1. Powerful friends.

 

This is sort of a combination of methods 2 and 3. Villains, especially those of playable races, probably have connections in the wider world. Perhaps the merchant, who is trying to swindle the party on a deal, is friends with some nobles. If the adventurers use too much violence, resources could be brought against them. Also, either through bad judgment of character or deep affection and friendship or utility in spite of alignment, even if the players ruthlessly kill an evil npc, this doesn’t mean that the ones who will be coming after them will necessarily be evil. For great story purposes. Good obstacles can make for interesting drama. And the negative effects to the party don’t even have to be actual hostile intent towards them. Even simple withdrawal or refusal to aid can be enough, as long as you, as a DM, make it clear to your players that they’ve made things much harder for themselves.

 

I hope you liked this little jaunt into how to make sure your players are not a bunch of murdering hobos in your campaign. Of course, if you like a combat-heavy campaign that flows from fight to fight, that’s good too if your players are onboard. See you next time.

 

About the Author.

Zachary is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception check.” He loves classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror flicks. He also enjoys the company of his two rats and two dogs. Despite his advice for peace today, his general policy is “If it can’t be solved with prismatic spray, it’s not solvable.”

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Episode 2 – Alignments

In today’s episode we discuss the different alignments as well as different ways to play those alignments.

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Freestyle Friday: Supermonsters 2

Hello All! Welcome to another Freestyle Friday. Since I’m still on a superhero kick from the convention, I’d thought I’d give you guys 20 more superpowers or superstats to give monsters to really set them off as tough opponents.

 

Like always, the stuff here isn’t tested and depending on what monsters you tie them to, the effectiveness at making a monster stronger might radically change. Use with caution and after looking at it carefully and hopefully testing it.

 

Without further delay, here are 20 more superpowers for monsters.

 

1. Trick weapons: The weapon attacks of the monster have one or more available additional effects that the monster can choose from. These effects are tied to the weapons they use.

2. trick ammo (as trick weapons, but tied up to arrows, thrown weapons, or crossbow bolts as well as other missiles.”

3. combination (The creature can combine with another with combination and form a monster that has +2 to all attack rolls and saving throws of the higher stats and has all actions and spells of both creatures combined.)

4. transmutation: The creature without spells can imitate the abilities of flesh to stone, passwall, and other elemental spells that manipulate the nature of objects.

5. Dead magic aura (within a distance of the monster, magic items and spells do not function.

6. spell turning (spells cast on the target that are hostile below what is appropriate for the challenge rating (i.e. 2nd-level spells or lower for a CR 5 monster) have a chance to be redirected at the caster.)

7. always armed (The creature normally uses a weapon but the weapon is actually part of their body, meaning they can’t be disarmed and are always considered to have the weapon drawn, though they can use other weapons if they want.”

8. Changing size (The creature can cast diminish or enlarge on itself at will to change in size from tiny to huge or large, depending on the DMs preference.)

9. Time manipulation (The creature can replay its turn one to 3 times per day or undo one effect laid against it including previous effects of that status.)

10. bursting blows (Any melee attack made by this creature that hits deals some non-physical damage type to all adjacent creatures other than itself.)

11. weather control (The monster can cast spells like ice storm, sleet storm, control weather, and call lightning as natural spellcasting, appropriate to CR)

12. Aging blows: The monsters physical attacks cause aging in the victims that are hit.

13. eye beams (The creature can do powerful lightning, radiant, or fire damage to one creature it can see.)

14. Tattoo Treasury: The creature can actually bring thins into existence that are tattooed on its body.)

15. Fantasy world (The creature can cast the Maze Spell that puts the target into a fantasy realm)

16. odd weapons (The monster possesses and knows how to use futuristic weapons not normal to the setting (see DMG for rules on things like side-arms, rifles, and laser guns.)

17. odd transport: The creature has futuristic (modern to us) means of transport, possibly with weapons (inspired by things like the arrowcar and the batmobile.))

18. one-man army (The creature can create half-hp duplicates of itself.)

19. Split body (The creature can split into two parts, one that does non-physical damage of some sort (hopefully appropriate for the monster, and one that does only physical with its attacks. Each has half of the monster’s current hp and can’t be raised more than to half the monster’s max hp.)

20. doesn’t need the necessities (The monster doesn’t need to eat, breathe, sleep, and does not age.) (ideal for non-elementals and non-celestial/fiend/undead.)

 

I hope you like this look at some more options for supermonsters, inspired by some of my favorite superheroes and villains.

 

About the Author:

 

Zachary is a DM for “Companions of the Perception Check” and he is a fan of not only classic lit, but also everything superhero. He enjoys the company of his two rats and dogs and loves the live action Flash and Arrow shows. His favorite supervillains include The Riddler, Lex Luthor, Thalia Head, and Captain Cold. He really wishes the Secret Society would return his calls.

 

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Episode 1- Wizard Schools

Today we talk about the different official schools of Wizards in D&D. Please visit us at https://www.companionsofperception.net

http://www.companionsofperception.net/Podcasts/Episode1.mp3

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Expanding the Adventure: Taking the Fight to Tiamat

Welcome back to another “Expanding the Adventure.” In this column, I add onto previous adventures that have been published by Wizards for 5e. I’ve been doing a lot of these lately, but I’m turning our attention to one of the early entries in the series now.

 

Not including the starter set, “Rise of Tiamat” was the second adventure released for the edition and it is the direct sequel to “Hoard of the Dragon Queen.” Just because it’s older and some of you might have played through it by now doesn’t mean that new add-ons are out of place here.

 

The adventure, at its close, presents several endings; including varied strengths of Tiamat should she emerge. However, if the players play their cards right, that encounter might not emerge at all with her failing to emerge from her realm into the Realms. Personally, as a player, though it would show the awesomeness of the performance of the team, I’d much rather face down The Dark Lady. This expansion to the adventure presents how one could do that.

 

Taking the Fight to Tiamat.

 

A gateway to Tiamat’s realm is being opened when the players arrive to stop the catastrophe from occurring. If they stop Tiamat from entering the world, they could instead use the rift in the planes to reach her own realm. At this point, the players are trying to stop Tiamat once and for all. Depending on your own preferences as a DM, the players could arrive at Tiamat’s Hellish temple on Avernus guarding the entrance to Dis, (Where the novel “Fire in the Blood” says it now is,) or you could have them make an difficult trek across Avernus to get there. If you do the latter, you ought to soften up the encounters in the temple.

 

The Temple,

 

The Temple of Tiamat has 5 towers of a great height and a sixth that is even taller and broader than the rest. The temple is loaded with wealth to the point that gaudy jewels and gold coins are everywhere in the same way rubble and dust are in more traditional dungeons. Tiamat rests atop a floating disc in the highest tower that is not readily accessible. Flying could reach it but because of “weakening the Queen” below simply flying up there is not a good idea.

 

The five towers.

 

Each of these towers holds one of Tiamat’s most trusted servants, each one a dragon of exceptional power and ability. Because of the obvious difficulty of this adventure, unless your players are well-equipped, you best not use exclusively ancient dragons among them. Each tower should contain several fights and good opportunities for treasures, particularly ones that would render one immune or resistant to one of the Chromatic dragon breath types or make one more able to harm Tiamat herself. Because of a pact with their kind, it would not be out of place to have the Githyanki here in this temple.

 

Weakening the Queen.

 

Upon slaying each of her draconic lieutenants, one of the negative effects of the end encounter from the original adventure is inflicted upon Tiamat, making her easier to destroy, in addition to getting treasures one might be able to use against her. Also, the disc she rests on drops lower or a way up to it is partially made with each flunky killed. If the party kills all five dragon servants, the disc is either easily accessible or the dragon Queen’s disc is now at ground level.

 

Victory! Now What?

 

Should the players fail against Tiamat, their end will either consist of eternal imprisonment or torture or simple annihilation. If they win, there are a number of things that could spawn from it.

 

1. In some iterations of the game, Tiamat holds Gith prisoner, if she is released, what will happen?

2. With Tiamat dead, the red dragons that serve the githyanki might revolt. What does that mean for the githyanki, githzerai, or the universe at large?

3. Tiamat guarded a key gateway in the Nine Hells. The devils aren’t going to be happy about this.

4. With Tiamat, a goddess of greed and envy dead, what changes about the nature of the world in general? You might also have to decide whether Tiamat is dead for good or just for a while.

 

And as for getting out of the Nine Hells: You could either have divine intervention, from someone like Bahamut helping them out. Or you could make escaping the Hells an adventure or two in themselves to cap off this extra little bit at the end.

 

I would like to thank you all for being here with me in another “Expanding the Adventure. I would also like to thank the D&D team for “Scales of War” an adventure path in 4e that largely inspired the temple of Tiamat as I presented it. If you’d like to see “scales of War” look in some back issues of Dungeons Magazine.

 

About the author:

 

Zachary is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and he enjoys bad sci-fi and horror flicks. He lives with and enjoys the company of his dogs and rats and reads classic lit almost constantly. His favorite Chromatic dragons are the green ones because of their devious natures and also, simply because green is his favorite color.

 

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Freestyle Friday: Super Monsters 1

Hello All and welcome to another Freestyle Friday. I’m off to a convention this weekend and in honor of some of the people I hope to meet and greet, I figured we’d cover super-monsters today.

 

The whole superhero genre is filled with exceptional individuals in the midst of ordinary people, which gives them great potential to do evil or good. Today I present you with 20 options for super-monster or super-npc options. (note: these options are most appropriate for highly intelligent or humanoid monsters (of which things like many demons, devils, giants, and fey also qualify.))

 

So without further delay here are my little nuggets for you.

 

Superpower.

 

  1. regeneration: The monster regenerates health and can regrow lost body parts.
  2. extra damage resistances: the monster has additional damage resistances that the species as a whole doesn’t.
  3. additional damage immunities: the monster has immunities to damage types it normally doesn’t.
  4. extendible limbs: the monster’s melee reach is 40 feet or greater. And it can step over a gap as large as its melee reach without having to make any sort of check.
  5. healed by damage type: a damage type normally heals it even though this isn’t normal for the race or monster in question.
  6. Willpower: immune to charms or any enchantment spells.
  7. Willpower reversal: when subjected to charm or other effects, the charmer is then the target of the ability and if they fail a saving throw, the monster is considered the charmer.
  8. condition immunity: the monster is immune to a condition it normally is not.
  9. frightening: The monster exudes a 10-foot aura of fear.
  10. flight: a non-flying monster can fly.
  11. super-speed: a monster either has a vastly increased movement rate or can dash as a free action once per round with accompanying disengage.
  12. Spider climb: the Monster has spider-climb
  13. mind-reader: the monster has detect thoughts on as well as detect good and evil and detect lie at all times.
  14. aquatic: The creature has water breathing and a swimming speed equal to the highest of its movement rates.
  15. creature affinity: the monster can cast a charm spell on all creatures of a certain variety within a certain area of itself (preferably not its own species.)
  16. Mind control specialist: The monster has a natural charm ability that inflicts the dominate monster spell and can have a very large number of creatures controlled at once. Furthermore, when it uses the ability, it is an area of effect spell and damage to the servants does not provoke a saving throw on the creature’s part.
  17. Earth glide: The creature has earth glide.
  18. innate spellcasting (elemental): The creature has thematic spell-like powers that are all focused on a single element.
  19. master of nature: the creature has innate spells related to plants and animals.
  20. magic resistance: The creature has magic resistance if it normally wouldn’t have it and if it would, it is immune to spells below the spells a player would have at its challenge rating.

 

Those are the superpowers I’ve created for monsters you might want to use. Handle with caution as some of these can make even a goblin a nightmare. So use sparingly, after all, superheroes are rare.

 

About the Author:

 

Zachary Is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check.” He loves classic lit, bad sci-fi and horror flicks, and the company of his pet rats and dogs. He loves superheroes too and his favorites include The Flash, The Green Arrow, and Zatanna.

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Expanding the Adventure: Thick Lake

Hello all! Welcome to another “Expanding the Adventure.” Today I am leaving off where I talked about Giants to delve into something probably more appropriate for October. But if Wizards could release a horror adventure featuring a vampire in the spring, I can add a little to it in the closing days of winter.

 

Curse of Strahd is a tribute to the old Ravenloft adventure that is beloved by countless D&D fans from before my time with the game. It had its own flavor and feel that really brought undead into being things that were truly horrifying. It also channeled many horrors and haunts we know and love from classic movies and novels. I plan to add my own to this one.

 

I’ve always been a fan of “The Blob.” and so I’m going to create a little location for that sort of creepiness. I know we’ve got Jublex and the pudding king in “Out of the Abyss.” But there is a difference between the demonic strangeness of the Faceless Lord and a gothic monstrosity.

 

Thick Lake is a lake near a large and now derelict greenhouse complex near the winery in Barovia. The water is as still as glass and it strangely only dimly reflects the almost featureless grey sky of Barovia. Birds do not land upon it, and even in the evenings, there are no sounds of frogs, crickets, or other pond life. Nobody has ever seen signs that the lake has any fish in it. And even birds flying over it sometimes will move out of their path to avoid flying over it. The lake in a fog is an ugly black stain, looking more like oil than water, and the plants on the shoreline seem to drip with a black ichor.

 

The greenhouses are largely empty, though the smell of decaying vegetation is everywhere. Broken glass litters the floor and piles of what used to be vibrant flowers and fruiting plants lie in smelly heaps everywhere. There is only one small tree, pierced by a large iron pole in a far corner.

 

Beyond this is a small house.

 

 

The house is made of crumbling grey stone, and wood as equally derelict. The door has long since disappeared somewhere and the shutters upon the windows often hang from a single corner nail still attached to the house. Inside, the floors are covered in inches of dust and what furniture is left is little more than moldy sticks and the fabric no longer advertises what color it was originally. Strangely, there are many small toys here that are not in great condition, but do not have the coating of age that everything else does. There is a master bedroom, a room that contains many tables and broken bottles, and rooms with small beds, as though made for children.

 

The motivation.

 

There are two ways you might get players playing Curse of Strahd to want to come here”

 

  1. They hear there is a special sort of tree bred here that can produce a stake that is more potent against vampires or even weakens them by being near.
  2. You add additional options for the Tarohka deck for the Vistani and you might find one of the treasures to fight Strahd with in one of these locations around the area.

 

  1. the haunts.

 

Little things that the players might notice when exploring this region.

 

  1. the lake sometimes seems to move a few inches closer to them when they are not looking.
  2. The toys in the house move around whenever the players leave a room.
  3. A stringed instrument can be heard in the Greenhouse, along with wailing.
  4. players are often harmlessly tripped while in the house by unseen arms or feet.

After their first trip to the greenhouse, the players keep smelling rotting fruit and vegetables.

 

  1. the inhabitants.

 

These should not be known to the players.

 

  1. The Lake is in fact a giant black pudding, with the following changes.

 

  1. The pudding is actually several puddings that although attacking separately, always move together on initiative count 5 losing ties. Also, as a creation of Dr. Frazz the pudding counts as a plant, rather than an ooze.
  2. The wailing and violin come from an enslaved Dryad that a scholar trapped in the Greenhouse. Unlike most Dryads, she is desiccated, old, and disheveled. She is deeply insane from her long imprisonment here and the experiments done on her and thinks all characters she sees are this scholar, even if she sees several at one time. Arina Fuliana is the only person she will talk to reasonably. If Arina is with the party, the Dryad is still suspicious but does not misidentify the PCs.
  3. Dr. Frazz, the scholar who used to live in the house, has been dead for centuries. He was a researcher into the fey. His ghost, harmless, wanders the house, interacting with nobody except for the boogles that live here. He thinks the Boogles are his children and sometimes plays with them. He is a ghost, he has the statistics of a wraith if he enters combat, which he does only to prevent the dryad from being freed (removal of the iron pole from the tree, or if the boogles are attacked.
  4. The boogles are mischievous and creepy, but don’t want to hurt anyone. They steal these toys from children or the one toyshop in Barovia and play with them almost incessantly. They are pranksters but would most likely avoid combat. They cannot communicate coherently with anyone. The oil they excrete they use to escape or cause harmless annoyance, they never spread it on stairs or other dangerous places unless they get to excited and worked up.
  5. The heaps of vegetation are really shambling mounds that serve Frazz. They no longer actually serve him and he doesn’t remember them any longer so they indiscriminately attack anyone who enters the greenhouse and will follow those people out of there if their targets leave up until the point the intruders are a mile away from the mounds.

The secret

 

The secret of this place can be found by searching the master bedroom or the ruined laboratory. The laboratory has several traps, including several that do radiant or lightning damage. There are bits of a journal in both places that reveal the secret that the lake is a giant, semi-intelligent pool of algae. It was created as a way to gather water and also to create a food source that would be able to grow in Barovia’s unnatural environment. The Algae broke free of the greenhouses and formed a lake, after destroying the lab and Dr. Frazz with it.

 

About the Author:

 

Zachary is one of the DMs for Companions of the Perception Check; he loves classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror movies. He enjoys the company of his two rats and two dogs. He recently picked up a weird bulb and named it Alex II. It’ll turn out well, right?

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Expanding the Adventure: The Ugly Ones

Hello readers and welcome to another installment of “Expanding the adventure.” In this one we’re looking at “Storm King’s Thunder.” This adventure is one of the latest in the series of published adventures and has a chapter dedicated to a plot or dungeon surrounding each of the true giants.

 

I say that that might not be enough. There are other giants that don’t feature in the adventure at all that could be interesting for the players to work around. Other kinds of giants include trolls, ogres, cyclopes, and oni. All of those excepting the oni don’t really fit into creatures that have large-scale plans that the player characters could thwart. However, there are also the Fomorians, wicked and scheming giants with strange and mighty powers to cause deformity in who they use their evil eye against. They would probably make excellent foes for an optional mini-adventure along with the true giants.

 

  1. The motivation.

 

The Fomorians are not part of the ordening and thus don’t have a stake in impressing Annam the All-father. However, they have both the will and intelligence to wield magic and know powerful magic when they see it. Fomorians, though being of the giant type, as said, don’t have a direct stake in the conflict of the adventure. However, there are distinct runic magics that come into play in this adventure that the Fomorians might be seeking. As to why? Fomorians are stated in the monster manual to have a strong hatred of good fey. Perhaps  the Fomorians are gathering runic magics to use against one of the archfey, such as either the queen of air and darkness, the moon maiden, or the sea twins or even the Green lord to render them susceptible to the evil eye or even render them warped from a distance by one of the fomorians’ more powerful spellcasters.

 

  1. The location

 

This is actually a portion of the adventure that takes place on another plane. As although they are giants, Fomorians have a connection to the fey, the adventure occurs on the feywild. As to more specifics? 4th edition books make the Fomorians very important in what they call the feydark, so perhaps entering a cavern causes one to enter the feydark through a fey crossing (one of the common natural areas where the boundaries between the prime and the feywild can be crossed.) To add some definite evil creatures beyond fey and fomorians to the mix, have the cavern connected to Brokenstone Vale, an area described in a few fourth-edition sourcebooks as a region of the feywild taken over by lycanthropes. Although the Long Night (the area ruled by the prince of Frost” is also a good location for evil fey, He is also described as still being an enemy of the evil giants so having them so close to him might not be the best idea as although he might be a target, warping him would not seem to be much of a problem for the PCs as he is a deeply evil archfey.

 

  1. The enemies.

 

Foremost among the enemies would be fomorians. As they are roughly equivalent in strength to frost or fire giants, you should probably use them in similar numbers and density to make the adventure manageable for your players. As to what else you could throw at them. Being in the feywild and dealing with Fomorians would probably mean many evil fey would be involved in this adventure as well as their creations. Probably a frontal defense of scarecrows and frontal vanguards and spies that are quicklings (Volo’s Guide to monsters) would be a good way to start. Volo’s Guide to Monsters provides many good options for evil fey, including 2 new kinds of hags, meanlocks, redcaps, and boogles among others. Some of those creatures are more lair-based so having the dungeon as a sort of confused network of caverns would allow the players while trying to navigate running into various encounters. Possibly the capture of eladrin elves (DMG) or good or benign fey such as pixies or sprites would also allow for friendly interactions in this one. Also, if you follow my advice of sticking the caverns in Brokenstone, virtually any lycanthrope could work here, though as Fomorians are bad enough, you might want to avoid the stronger ones such as werebears unless you are using good-aligned ones (the Monster Manual opens the possibility for occasional evil werebears that would probably be common in Brokenstone Vale.) In the central area of the caverns also a coven of hags might be a good option. Annis hags, or Green hags are probably most appropriate based on Brokenstone’s geography, with Green hags probably making up at least 2 of the coven that could work with the Fomorians as 2 or more Annis hags would be too difficult for the party to contend with.

 

  1. The leadership:

 

In 4e, Thrumbolg (A Fomorian King) was stated to be an archfey. However, as monsters were classified in 4e under a different system with Fomorians being fey humanoids with the giant subtype while the modern ones are simply giants, that may or may not be canon any longer. Whether it is or not, bringing a member of the Fomorian royal family would be an interesting shift. Thrumbolg, whether he is an archfey or not is too powerful for the party. He also does not have a son as he slew him to prevent himself from being slain according to a prophecy he heard. However, perhaps he has adopted foster children. Celtic lore is largely the inspiration for the fomorians of D&D and in that culture adoption of foster children is common. Therefore, We will create a foster daughter for Thrumbolg and we’ll call her Vuldre. She has taken it upon herself to prove herself worthy of the fomorian throne by actually using the evil eye to ruin one of the fey she so intensely hates. Give her a few levels in wizard or make her an archfey warlock with some of the creepier warlock invocations or reskin ones to show the darker nature of fomorian magic, and then unleash her against the party. Giving her better armor, charisma, intelligence, or higher hp are all good starts for creating her, or perhaps use a mix of these. Perhaps even she could be negotiated with or the players might not fight with her directly, just drifting into the caverns, stealing, and then running, it’s all up to you.

 

 

I hope this is enough to get your campaign expanded and whether you choose to use it or not, or you use it either with or without “Storm King’s Thunder.” I hope you enjoyed your time with the ugly giants.

 

About the author:

 

Zachary is one of the DMs of “The companions of the Perception Check .” He is blind and loves classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror flicks. He lives with his two rats and two dogs. He was recently given recognition as the world’s smallest fomorian.

 

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Freestyle Friday: A magic number

Welcome all of you to Freestyle Friday. Today is 3/3, and so we’re going to discuss a magical number today.

 

3 is one of the most iconic numbers in mythology, representing the Trinity of the Christian faith, the three most important aspects of Brahma in Hinduism, the number of brothers that ruled the heavens, sea, and underworld in Greek myth, and it occurs frequently among fairy tales of various cultures, as well as being seen as the tripartite portion of human aging, (both unisex and in particular to women.) And it also represents the number of known continents to most far-ranging cultures before the discovery of the Americas.

 

With all that plethora of 3’s in the real world, you can add a number of 3 references in the Realms and other worlds as well.

 

3 gods worshipped as one by the Rashimi in the Realms

3 alignments (both on the law/chaos scale and the good/evil scale)

Hags are most powerful in groups of 3

3 planes including the prime are reflections of it.

 

And many more.

 

So, how to bring the number 3 into your game. Let’s discuss some options.

 

  1. 3-way struggle: the battle your characters or players are fighting is a three-way struggle. This can allow for intrigues, temporary alliances either in favor or against the players, or can make getting a treasure or goal accomplished simply that much more complicated.
  2. 3 foes: Why have one face behind the evil threat when you can have 3? This can lead to again intrigues and backstabbing, or it can also lead to making stopping the threat a more daunting challenge when you can’t simply cut off the serpent’s head. Much can be gained by a DM by making these villains far more varied, making the game a real challenge as a foe might be a devil, while another is a genie, and a third is a rogue.
  3. 3 pieces: It’s a classic, but can lead to multiple adventures in a chain or render a seemingly easy task in a single adventure more complicated. If one must just get the helmet, all together and fine, one really doesn’t get the same sort of experience with several fragments. These fragments could be in 3 places around the dungeon or they might be scattered across the planes.
  4. 3 allies: This is actually very similar to 3 foes, except presumably all of these allies are on your side. This can actually make a social encounter that much more challenging. You can’t just war pick the nobleman to his face if he doesn’t agree with the archdruid as you might be able to with an enemy, so this can always make for fascinating role-play.
  5. three locations: In this case, the goals of the party can’t be met unless they visit 3 different, but inherently connected places. These could be anything from varied ruins to entire planes of existence. Such a number keeps the players from being overwhelmed but can lend coherence to an ongoing campaign and weave interesting narratives for the game.
  6. 3 truths: These are bits of information that are more or less useless on their own but serve a purpose once the party knows all 3. This could be used for a mystery set-up, or perhaps something involving espionage or thwarting a villain ahead of time.
  7. 3 tiers: Villains might not always work as equals, or perhaps there are tasks the party must perform of various difficulties, the easiest leading into the next. Like other 3’s. this set-up of the number is small and manageable, but also lends a degree of coherence or structure to a campaign. It also gives the players goals and purpose to what they do.
  8. 3 events: trouble comes in 3’s and that might be true for players on a large-scale campaign. Chances are the monsters aren’t going to come at the heroes or their allies one at a time. Try dumping 3 events on different locations, thus giving the crisis a real feel of danger and also driving home the seriousness of whatever the characters are doing.
  9. 3 triumphs: One of the greatest rewards to a group of players is a triumphant, massive victory over the foes they encounter. Perhaps have something the players do, particularly at a pivotal moment in the campaign do something that solves three of their pressing problems. Only do this when either the players are so-hard-pressed that they need some help or when they do something amazing that warrants an amazing reward.

 

There you are, it is 3/3 and I gave you 3×3 ways to use the number in a campaign. Hope some of these appeal to you and I hope to see you next time on Freestyle Friday.

 

About the Author:

Zachary Is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check.” He likes bad sci-fi and horror flicks and classic lit and lives with his 2 rats and 2 dogs. A lich told him he ought to go out and live a little saying, “You only live thrice.”

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Off the Rails: Yes…. But

Hello all, and welcome to a segment we call: “Off the Rails.” This category is largely dedicated to the DM, but players might get a laugh or two, or at least get a good view at what they put us poor dungeon masters through when they do the wonderful and frustrating things they do.

 

Some of the greatest moments I’ve had at the table have been when I’ve been Dming and my players have done something so unexpected that I have been utterly bewildered at what to do. As a blind DM, It actually requires a bit more planning for me to set up an adventure, which makes dealing with the things I never expect my players to do that much more difficult. Even so I can tell you a few things one can do however.

 

Today, we are going to talk about slow, “Yes…. But” responses to when players force your hand to create on the fly.

 

A slow response as I see it is a response to something strange a character does that winds up puputting a spin on what they do later in the campaign. For example, if a player behaves strangely to an npc, that npc or someone close to them either becomes a consequence, or suffers consequences as a result, but not in the adventure in question, or not for a couple sessions at least. The slow “yes…. But” response to erratic player behavior is best used early or mid-campaign, as near the end, it is not nearly as useful and not as practicable.

 

I now will set out the steps as I see it to the slow “Yes…but” response.

 

  1. Say “yes” to what the party wants to do.

 

Generally creative behavior on the part of the players ought to be rewarded, as long as their choices do not directly fly in the face of logic or common sense. If players find a way to bypass the besiegers without fighting through them as you had planned, don’t force the fights on them. If they want to masquerade or use magic items to get by them, give them a chance.

 

  1. Don’t shoehorn if you can help it.

 

Not only should you facilitate what the players want to do, you should be ready to help them to succeed. If the players can bypass some tough monsters, don’t just move the monsters elsewhere. The exception of course is things like adventure bosses or important NPcs and enemies the adventure depends on the players confronting and defeating. In this case however, you should still be flexible, and if the players do something unusually clever, making the boss weaker or having them fight him or her in a more advantageous situation is better.

 

  1. Good thoughts deserve good chances or even certainty.

 

When you fulfill the first parts of a slow “yes…. But” response to unexpected player behavior, you should reward the players for their quick thinking, especially if their ideas are particularly fun. In many cases, you ought to give them a little help. If you have to come up with checks for them to make, make their DCs rather low for the level or alternatively, if the behavior is in-world unexpected and addresses a challenge in a rather brilliant way, maybe even adding advantage to the party’s checks is a reasonable thing to do. This makes the party feel good and also helps you get the events of their alternate behavior in place for the next step. If the behavior is extremely well-thought out, you might even forego checks entirely.

 

  1. Plot on your own.

 

Between the time of the adventurers’ actions and when you plan to bring up what they did again, think of how what they did could change the game for them. For example, if they made a deal with some devils rather than fighting them as you expected them to do, get ready to bring these devils back at a dramatically-appropriate time, especially one that will draw the players back to the moment when this happened and make them realize how important the behavior they engaged in was. This may not necessarily be a sort of punishment. It can open whole adventures, or when the players do well, get them allies and help when they most need it. I try not to punish my players so I go more for adventure ideas and rewards. Also, letting this sort of thing simmer for a while in your mind makes it easier to plan what you want to do. Because such things are meant to be important, make it good.

 

  1. Intertwine

 

If you have several threads going on and you have a coherent, well-thought-out story for your campaign, perhaps there are layers of complexity the players do not see. Perhaps something they did in a random encounter makes the significance of such an encounter far more severe than they realized. And maybe some symbol they found on some goblin banners at level 1 reflects on something they see in the evil archmage’s tower at level 16, so keep track of details and try to keep the little changes your players force you to make ready to make for even more fascinating adventures.

 

I hope this look at ways to deal with unexpected player behavior is helpful to all you aspiring DMs out there.

 

About the author:

Zachary is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and is running the “Children of Gith,” campaign for them currently. He loves classic lit, bad sci-fi and horror flicks, and the company of his rats and dogs. His most frustrating off-the-rails moment was when the party charmed the Dragon of Athas.

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Freestyle Friday: Speech Quirks

Dialogue and Roleplay are two of the things that make D&D so great. Because of some things I have done in my own campaigns, I have found that some things just said by the characters can be some of the most memorable moments of the stories you and the other players tell. Sometimes throwing a monkey wrench into that can be quite fun by giving weird caveats, restrictions, or compulsions to spoken dialog of your characters.

 

Kim is one of the players for the group and because she handled a dead grell recently and was affected by latent psionic energies. She can now only speak in questions.

 

I thought that finding different ways to influence the speech of your players could be very interesting and add interesting bits of flavor to your game. So I thought I’d put out a simple column today with some concepts as to how you could manage it. Unlike many of my columns here on Freestyle Friday, this one will probably contain few or no tables and will just be an compendium of things that might strike your fancy.

 

These options could be character quirks, curses, flaws, or simply the result of backgrounds that might involve incapacity to speak well.

 

Here are a few that came to mind.

 

1. Roll a d20, your character cannot pronounce a consonant corresponding to that consonants place in the alphabet (1=b, 2=c 3=d and so on until 20=z) For added complexity, roll a d20 again and the sound is replaced with that other consent, with the place of the consonant to be replaced removed and a 20 resulting in complete omission or apostrophization where that letter occurs) [in the case of letters that make several sounds such as “C” which either makes the K or the S sound in most cases, the player either choses or rolls odd/even. And in the case where sometimes the letter in question makes the sound of another letter, such as how G’s can sound like J’s you use the unique sound if the letter has one.) (I omitted vowels from this system as they are so fundamental to speech it would probably present too much difficulty to properly address this.)

2. A character always speaks either in questions or always in a questioning tone.

3. Cultural norms, such as looking at a person when talking to them are not followed.

4. The character never speaks above a stage whisper or always whispers in stage whispers.

5. A character always shouts or talks loudly (if this would be disruptive, don’t use it or stage shout, which is like a stage whisper but a shout that is theatrical rather than loud.)

6. A character draws out vowels so words with many vowels takes longer to say.

7. A character always speaks abnormally slowly.

8. a character always speaks very quickly.

9. A character drops the ending letters or syllables of many words.

10. the character drops the beginnings of many words.

11. The character has trouble either tensing verbs or conjugating them.

12. A character always speaks in the past tense.

13. A character always speaks in the present tense.

14. The character uses the passive voice almost exclusively.

15. the pitch of the character’s voice either rises, falls, or vacillates as they speak.

16. The character always speaks like they are out of breath.

17. The volume of the character’s voice changes at random (see notes on whispering and shouting above)

18. There are common words the character literally never uses such as “the” or “that” substituting some other word.

19. The character has trouble using gendered pronouns properly.

20. The character randomly switches between languages it knows as it speaks.

 

One final note: Proceed with caution with these suggestions whether you are a player or a DM handing out one of these methods of speech. Some of them might be regarded as offensive in the wrong circumstances, such as if one of your players or someone close to them has one of many speech disorders that can actually produce some of these effects in real life or might be seen as being offensive to someone who does not speak the native language of wherever you live or whatever language you use during play.. As a DM, you also need to know that the player will not either abuse or treat this sort of characteristic in inappropriate ways at the table, though if you have an established group, it probably won’t come up. Also, competence needs to be thought of before you take up one of these characteristics yourselves or give it to a player. Some players, with no comment on their intelligence, are less able to handle some of these characteristics than others and some could more effectively act them than others. Asking questions whenever one speaks is not too difficult and probably most players could handle it, but something like replacing one letter with another is something that it would take one of your better actors in the group to accomplish with any consistent degree of success.

 

I hope some of these ideas could help you design some interesting, and entertaining conversations at the table, or perhaps you could give some prominent NPCs some of these traits as well if you’re the DM.

 

About the Author.

 

Zachary is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and is a blind man who had speech therapy a couple times during his life, though his language is clear now. He enjoys classic lit, bad sci-fi and horror flicks, and the company of his rats and dogs. He speaks German as well as English and likes to attach accents to his D&D characters, particularly right now, his cowgirl Halfling sheriff, Trin. John Wayne’s estate is threatening him with a lawsuit now.

 

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Expanding the Adventure: The Cult of The White Wrath

Hello all and welcome to “Expanding the Adventure” a segment dedicated to adding a little extra to official products. It’s still winter as many; at least in the northern Hemisphere know. And so I thought I’d fulfill a promise and present something I promised 2 weeks ago.

 

Today we are going to talk about the cult of elemental cold. The adventure “Princes of the Apocalypse.” And its associated public play events presents four elemental cults, along with their leaders and the primordial princes of elemental evil that lead them.

 

The back of the book which details the four elemental princes mentions two others which are not statted or dealt with in the adventure. One of these two is Cryonax, prince of elemental ice or cold.

 

Cryonax has not been statted, and I do not pretend to be able to make an accurate or useful version of him. He is however statted in 4th edition works, being mentioned and explained in an article in Dragon Magazine a few years ago. He is probably going to be some sort of brawler as he is described as an enormous yeti with four tentacles instead of arms, who, in that version of the game, is imprisoned on a floating chunk of ice in the Elemental Chaos by chains that keep him alive but also keep him trapped and keep his powers from ravaging the multiverse.

 

The other cults have specific names, such as the cult dedicated to Earth is called the cult of the Black Earth and the cult allied with Olhydra is called “The Cult of the Crushing Wave.” Therefore, the “Cult of Elemental ice” doesn’t really work. My suggestion for an appropriate name might be “The Cult of the White Wrath.” I will use this title I chose for the rest of the article.

 

Each cult in the Elemental Evil storyline had specific behaviors. The Cult of the Crushing Wave used hit and run tactics while the Cult of the Eternal Flame was all about passionate and rampant offense. Looking at the elements themselves can help decide what the Cult of the White Wrath ought to do. According to typical D&D elemental structure, cold/ice is a combination of elemental water and air. Therefore, the tactics of the Cult of the White Wrath should incorporate different aspects of both the Cult of the Howling Hatred and the Cult of the Crushing Wave. The Cult of the Howling Hatred is mercurial and subtle, while the Cult of the Crushing Wave is unrelenting but also flexible. Combining the two means that the air aspect provides a sort of emotional detachment, while the water aspect combined with this makes the Cult of the White Wrath use cold, surgically-precise tactics.

 

Each cult also has a symbol reflecting their natures and the elements they worship. My proposal for this is a sign where the hands are pushed together, with the fingers interlaced with the palms facing the body. The fingers are stretched out and splayed to try and create a sort of many-pronged figure, as close as a human hand signal can get to a snowflake. I am not sure of what you guys could come up with but I’d be glad to hear if you have anything better.

 

Also, each elemental cult has allies and enemies. In the case of the 4 elemental cults presented in the Elemental Evil Storyline, each has one enemy cult (the opposing element) and 2 allied cults (the cults that are not directly affiliated with the element in question. Ice however is made of two elements. So one could approach it in 3 ways.

 

  1. The cult is opposed by the opposites of both of its elements (It is allied to The Cult of the Crushing Wave and the Cult of the Howling Hatred, but opposed by the Cult of the Black Earth and The Cult of the Eternal Flame.)
  2. It is only opposed by a group that incorporates the opposites of both of its elements (an unnamed cult of elemental magma perhaps)
  3. Options 1 and 2 together.

 

Followers: Aside from the various humanoid followers of this cult, I imagine creatures that relate to cold are primarily interested in this cult. Boulettes are sacred to the Cult of the Black Earth, and Dragon Turtles and Aboleths have their place within the Cult of the Crushing wave. Probably creatures that are not only associated with cold, but actually have powers that rely on cold in some fundamental way fit the role well.

 

I’d imagine that yetis would fit the role well, as well as bjure hags. Admittedly, the options available for this cult are a little smaller than for the others, as the element of cold does not have elemental creatures or genies associated with them in the same way as the basic four. Perhaps winter wolves and ice mephits fit the bill somehow as guard animals or spies. You might also try changing the stats somewhat to earth elementals to create ice ones for summoned soldiers. And Frost giants that have turned away from Thrym might be appropriate as well. As for how to make an ice Myrmidon, just changed the piercing damage of a water myrmidon to bludgeoning damage and maybe give it a trait like that it is vulnerable to fire and creates difficult terrain within 10 feet of it, causing any creature on the same surface, hit by a melee attack to have to make a dc 12 dexterity saving throw to avoid being knocked prone.

 

As for the humanoid followers, creatures of the north such as barbarians, berserkers, tribal warriors, and perhaps Northmen or other cultures from cold climates might fit here. One could also add madmen from the southlands who were drawn to the cold just as Irehacklia in the “Year of Rogue Dragons” books was drawn to Auril, despite being from a warm climate.

 

The Front: In “Princes of the Apocalypse” each cult also had a sort of front that they used as their public faces. The Sacred Stone Monastery for the Cult of the Black Earth, for example. Because in most places the places where snow and ice are constantly present are on only the highest mountain peaks, the initial outpost of the cult ought to be there. There is already a mounted flying school, an order of druids, a river community and a monastery, so we ought to create something else for the cult of the White Wrath. I suggest perhaps a citadel upon a mountain peak well above the snow-line. As for a title, perhaps the Knights of The world’s Roof. And for a BS mission, to guard the mountain passes from on high from those who would waylay travelers on their ways.

 

The leader of the Front: A leader for the Front could be the following.

 

Farljord Tark: This shield Dwarven Blackguard was once a paladin in service to Mythril Hall, however, after being left behind by a retreating troop of dwarves during a battle with orcs, A Bjure hag took him in. Despite the evil reputation of these creatures, the hag fed him through the winter and allowed him to live in as much comfort in her dwelling as it could. It was bitterly cold but soon, he became used to it, as the influence of Cryonax seeped into his soul. The hag had worked in secret, subtle ways to turn him to Cryonax and soon gave him command over the Knights of the World’s Roof, where he furthers the efforts of the Cult of the White Wrath throughout the region.

 

As for the Leader of the whole thing: perhaps the following.

Grenlig Larbor: A warrior of the Northmen, on an expedition, he was stranded in the Sea of Moving Ice, where he nearly starved. On his last legs, winter wolves assailed him. Too weak to fight off the monsters, the wolves used their icy breath against him. However, instead of killing him, the breath transformed him. The blast made him into some sort of ice Genasi. The inherent ice spells he learned and could access made him seem like a sorcerer, a kind of caster most Northmen did not trust. Wandering for years, he eventually was led to the location of the Bite of Winter (a powerful greataxe and artifact of Cryonax’s cult) and then he set out to gather the Cult of The White Wrath to build his plan to release Cryonax upon the world.

 

The weapon: Winter’s Bite

 

Every cult has a special weapon wielded by the cult’s leader with significant magical power. Because of popular imagery and the fact that many Norse-like characters use axes and such things haven’t appeared among the other weapons, a greataxe seemed appropriate here.

 

I Hope, if you’re a fan of the Elemental Evil storyline, you can use these little guidelines and suggestions to inform bringing this wintery cult into the adventures, turning the quartet of evil cults to a quintet.

 

About the Author:

 

Zachary is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and is currently running their “Children of Gith” partially-homebrewed campaign. He likes classic lit and bad sci-fi and horror flicks, and enjoys the company of his two pet rats and dogs. He has been advised against joining the Cult of the White Wrath, but he used to like skiing, so he might just take the plunge.

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Freestyle Friday: Character of the week: Dagund Amrigoal

Hello All Welcome to Freestyle Friday. Today I am going to do something I will do every once in a while and create a “Character of the Week” This is, by rolling on personally-created tables, I develop my own idea for a character on the spot and explain how this character might fit into the world.

 

First, I will roll on a random number generator for Gender.

 

1=male

2=female

 

Well, the number came up 1, so we’ve got a guy hero this time.

 

Because there are certain subclasses that require certain races, we roll class first. To keep it simple, we’ll roll assuming the base 12 classes that exist now from the Player’s handbook. I allow Unearthed Arcana stuff in my games and may draw on them here, but for the main classes, I do not allow platest stuff to serve that large a purpose in my game. The order is simply alphabetical.

 

We got a 1 again; this brings up the first class in the line: Barbarian

 

Now, with the Unearthed Arcana stuff that exists now from the Dungeons and Dragons team that I accept, there are 6 types of Barbarian available.

 

  1. Berserker
  2. Totem warrior
  3. Battlerager (Sword Coast Adventurer’s guide)
  4. Path of the Ancestor (UA)
  5. Path of the Storm (UA)
  6. Zealot (UA)

 

Okay, I rolled a 3. Battleragers are Dwarf only, so that decides race for me. But I still must decide sub-race

 

  1. Mountain Dwarf
  2. Hill Dwarf
  3. Duergar

 

I rolled a 1, so this fellow is a mountain dwarf.

 

To add an extra bit of challenge, I’ll roll randomly to see what campaign he is in.

 

  1. Forgotten Realms
  2. Dark Sun
  3. Points of Light (4th edition default setting)
  4. Realms
  5. Gothic Horror campaign similar to Ravenloft
  6. Realms

 

4 so he’s from the realms

 

For his background: there are 26 current official backgrounds, 13 in the Player’s Handbook, 12 in Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, and 1 in Curse of Strahd. In another online game I play called Storium, I am known for being able to make any circumstance fit any character I create. I will roll a digital 26-sided die and choose a background based on the number rolled and the order it appeared in publication date or position among others in the book.

 

I rolled a 14, which actually makes him a city watch.

 

Now I have to roll for his traits from that background, or rather roll and modify what there is from soldier, which the City watch background directs the player to.

 

For my two traits I got

 

Haunted by War

Can stare down a Hell Hound without flinching.

 

For my ideal I got:

 

Live and Let Live: ideals aren’t worth fighting over

 

This is meant for neutral alignments, so I have half of what my dwarven Battleragers alignment is. For the other half, I’m going to roll a d6. I like complete randomness in my characters but I also don’t like different for the sake of difference and I feel most characters ought to have some commonality with their race as a whole in outlook. Therefore, since dwarves tend towards lawful good, I already have neutral but I still can lean lawful and in the logic of the worlds, probably do. Therefore on my roll a 1-3 indicates lawful, 4-5 indicates neutral, and 6 = chaotic.

 

I got a 1, so the Dwarf is going to be lawful Neutral.

 

Bond: I rolled a 6 on this one so I got a sort of defend the weak outlook for my character.

 

As for my flaw: I got “Made a mistake in battle that cost many their lives.” Normally, this might not fit a city watch character, but it will for him.

 

And here is what I put together from all that.

 

Dagund Ambrigol

 

One of the guardians of Sundabar, Dagund was a captain of the local city watch when the orcs, with their drow Instigators descended upon the city, slaughtering all those on the surface and reducing the city to rubble. Dagund did what he could to defend evacuating humans and dwarves, but he was not to extend his reach over a certain boundary. He obeyed these orders in his efforts to defend the city and for the most part, he did well, but however as the last defenses were falling, his strict adherence to orders led a mass of fleeing citizens, many of them women and children into an oncoming swath of Orcish raiders.

 

Now, in the aftermath of the city’s destruction, Dagund has retreated into himself, though he often seems to see signs of orcs wherever he goes. He does not fear them, and in his spiked armor, he still is ready to step in for the little guy when it counts. But for the most part, he is tired of fighting and thinks that alliances of military support do far more harm than good. He sticks to his traditions as a Dwarven warrior and skilled battlerager, but any high-minded, world-spanning political ideals are a waste of time as he sees them. He does what he can for individuals where he sees them, and he’s no coward, but the old ways are a piece of wood he clings to in the flooded waste his life has become since Sundabar’s fall.

 

I hope you like this sort of feature, and if you want to see me do more, please let me know.

 

About the Author:

 

Zachary Is a fan of classic Lit, Bad sci-fi and horror flicks, and all things D&D. He loves coming up with characters like Dagund, though he fears one of them might decide they want to take over one day.

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Loving Bad-Asses

 

Hello all, and welcome to the time of the year when the Romans believed the birds chose their mates. The day that was named for 2 Saints, neither of whom had anything to do with lovers. Welcome, to Valentine’s Day.

 

There are a number of gods and goddesses of love in the D&D multiverse, Sune Firehair, a number of Elven gods and goddesses, Barunor Truesilver for the dwarves, the absent gnomish goddesses of the realms, and then a host of such beings from classical cultures such as Greek and Norse. Love is a fundamental part of the worlds of D&D, but how exactly do they fit in in a game where you’re slicing down monsters, looting treasures, and delving deep in forgotten corners of the world? Turns out they can fit in a number of places.

 

The books I have read in the D&D novel collections don’t offer much. There have been occasional priestesses and priests of Sune in some of the realms books, such as Audawn in the Avatar series or Jozelle in “The Sentinel” or the Chosen of Sune from Erin Evans’ “Fire in the Blood” but these characters are either not major foci of the story or they leave a lot to be desired in terms of being likeable protagonists.

 

Audawn after his facial scar becomes little more than a whiny loser, not even willing to speak up at all when his friends are put on trial for the supposed death of Elminster, and though I hate Cyric, his disdain of the cleric of Sune is very understandable at this point and I have to say if he was thinking that way about him, Cyric wasn’t all that crazy yet.

 

Jozelle offers a better character, but her scheming and manipulating kind of made her hard to read for me. There was very little “love” in what she did and all of that seems more of something I would expect a follower of Fierna or Glassya to do (two rather tempting archdevils.” And don’t really seem the acts of a hero. To me. Not so unhappy about her end though.

 

As for the chosen in “Fire in the Blood,” I’d say she’s a bit better there, though not quite adventurer material. She runs a pleasure house in Susail and she does a lot of good for Farideh, however, I’d have to label her more as a plot device to work up the romantic angle of the story than someone you could model a hero on.

 

But despite all that, there is still hope.

 

Love does not equal pacifism. Take for example Homer’s Iliad, in a portion of the book, Ares takes up one of the heroes and causes him to go into a berserk frenzy, cutting down soldiers and warriors left and right. Aphrodite’s sympathies being on the other side, is not to be outdone and replicates Ares’ trick, taking hold of a soldier herself and duplicating the bloodbath. She’s ultimately reprimanded by Zeus for this, but the fact still stands that the goddess of love and beauty was not above slaughter.

 

In the Realms, There’s Ao, who is to the gods, what the gods are to mortals if such a conflict should arise and he could provide a Zeus figure if such a conflict were to arise between Sune and some violent God such as Bane or Tempus.

 

It could just be a priest or priestess following orders if they should step into a role as an adventurer or soldier in some interfaith conflict. The enemies of the deity of love and beauty might need a strong hand to be defeated. No amount of talking and sweetness is going to keep IashtuZvim from doing his worst.

 

So it could of course, just be a straight conflict between the personalities of a couple of gods, but that isn’t all it could be. Depending on how you want to treat what exactly qualifies as beauty and love for the gods or goddesses of your campaign, adventuring for a follower of such a deity might be a major thing. One need only look at some of the threats to such things to see a whole range of options for your perspective characters.

 

First, there is physical beauty. Few creatures embody a threat to that more completely than do hags. Hags are even stated to embody the ugly sides of nature. And they have a corrupting influence over the game world that does tend to produce both moral and physical vileness wherever they take up their abodes. If the church of your god or goddess of beauty is particularly militant about protecting such things, they’ll send out their clerics and loyal paladins and followers in a heartbeat. Such blemishes on the world cannot be allowed to continue.

 

There are also more direct and more natural threats to physical beauty. A beautiful city of great wealth attracts raiding armies from all directions. To protect it might be a goal of the church, particularly if man-made beauty is important to them. The threats this sort of angle might call forth could be anything from bandits, to hobgoblins, to dragons, or powerful wizards.

 

And then there is of course the mere concept of ugliness as something that breaks some fundamental rule of the world. To someone who understands beauty deeply and has a strong sense of what should and should not be allowed, (possibly of lawful alignment.) aberrations and several creatures of the monstrosity creature type would qualify as things that are fundamentally ugly as would many or possibly all undead. For someone who looks at aesthetics and beauty as fundamental rules to the universe, they, even worshipping beauty, would have a number of viable enemies.

 

So far, I have talked primarily about beauty, but love has its place as well and probably can create far deeper heroic characters. The definition of love varies from person to person, and I, as a columnist talking about D&D, am not going to tell you which one is right. But we can probably agree there are corrupt second-cousins to it that can’t truly be said to be love.

 

Two of these are infatuation and using emotion as a tool. Two of the Lords of the Nine, the archdevils that rule Hell embody these twisted forms of love perfectly. Fierna and her father Belial are definitely the patrons of the seduction and infatuation corruptions of love, while the deceitful Glassya is the queen of dishonestly using such tools as false affection to get what she wants. On the demonic side, you’ve got Graz’zt and in regards to other fiends and fey, you’ve got the ever-present hags, corrupting both the physical and spiritual beauty and love of those around them and Rakshasas, as well as probably many of the Yugoloths and succubae/incubi.

 

The threats among mortal creatures are also many. I doubt anyone would have less sympathy with an evil enchanter or enchantress than a good-aligned priest of a love god or goddess. Perhaps something mitigates the circumstances like using it to prevent a cataclysm but in most cases, good love and beauty deities I imagine would frown on enchantment magic being used in such a way. Non-magical means of doing the same thing also probably would not be looked on with favor to get some evil end.

 

Among the divine you’ve got gods that stand against everything a perspective God or Goddess of beauty and love could stand for. You’ve got gods of physical ugliness and disease like Talona, Gods of violence such as Tempus and Bane and IashtuZvim, and gods that delight in suffering such as Cyric, Loviatar, and Shar: an that’s just the Forgotten Realms. If you play a multi-world campaign as I do, the threats from gods alone become legion.

 

Finally, a rarely known Greek myth to suggest a whole campaign revolving around a god or goddess of love and beauty. It is often said that the distance between love and hate is miniscule, and there’s a Greek myth that demonstrates it well.

 

Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, the homely and rather piggish god of craftsmen. There is significance in that symbolism too but it is not needed here. Like most figures in Greek myth, Aphrodite was not exactly faithful and tended to fool around with virtually any attractive mortal or god she came across. Despite being the goddess of love, she didn’t find Ares, god of violence and war, at all repulsive. Her husband found out about it though and punished their affair by using his hammer to beat the philandering couple together into a single being for a time.

 

Perhaps something similar might happen in your own campaign. Suddenly avatars or high-ranking priests of both a war deity and the love deity in question begin acting strangely. Ideally, the war priests are getting gentler and the love priests are getting meaner. And even more so, even the warpriests’ sudden kindness ought to flare up in ways or at times that are not helpful. It turns out some third god has is responsible for such things. Cyric has enmity with all the other gods, so in a realms campaign, perhaps somehow Bane and Sune are being combined divinely in some abominable way that threatens to throw the world out of balance, probably initiated by Cyric.

 

And lastly, not all followers of a god of love or beauty are clerics or paladins. Some people are motivated by love though to do something heroic. Perhaps their adventuring career is to save someone or win someone’s favor, or perhaps a party member is their inspiration. These all must be approached with caution, as many of them can be seen as sexist and a couple might make the group uncomfortable, check with your DM on this one. And the other players. Especially if it is an intra-party romance you really need to double-check to see if it is okay.

 

Well, those are my Valentine’s Day thoughts on how you can have bad-ass heroes, even if they happen to be following Aphrodite, Sune, or any of the other many gods and goddesses in the D&D multiverse that might need champions.

 

About the author:

Zachary is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and has been an avid D&D fan for over 20 years. He lives with his 2 dogs and 2 rats. He would like to thank Ed Greenwood for making Sune a Redhead.

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Freestyle Friday: 1s to 10s

Hello all, and welcome to another installment of Freestyle Friday. As with last time, I must warn you that this stuff I bring up is completely off the top of my head and is not polished and may require adjustment by DMs that want to use it.

 

Being that it is nearing Valentine’s Day, the thoughts of many turn to love and lovely mean and ladies. Although many NPCs are crafted diligently by DMs with their appearance and attractiveness determined deliberately, I wish to provide a way to create either exceptionally comely or ugly NPCs to populate the world with with some degree of randomness. Alternately, a player not sure of what sort of appearance they want with their character could put these tables to use.

 

Many focused on appearance give men and women a rating of 1-10 in appearance and attractiveness. While this practice is rather rude and objectifying, it serves creating NPCs with randomized attractiveness quite well.

 

The first step in using these tables is to roll a d10 and assign that number to determine a creature’s attractiveness. Follow the typical 1 is hideously unattractive while 10 is dazzling beauty. Feel free to apply bonuses or penalties to the roll based on the makeup of the party or personal preferences of the party. For example, a dwarven man would probably get bonuses in a primarily dwarven party or if a player likes elves or tieflings, maybe adding 1-2 to the roll might not be out of place.

 

If you roll a 1-3 consult the unattractive features table and roll 3 d20s for a 1, 2 for a 2, and 1 for a 3, either rerolling duplicates or saying that duplicates represent especially severe versions of the feature. If you roll an 8-10, consult the attractive traits table, rolling once for an 8 2 times for a 9, and 3 times for a 10, either rerolling duplicates or having duplicates expressed as extremely strong exceptions of the trait.

 

(note, these tables are meant to represent more standard races and humanoid creatures and will need adjustment for either particularly unusual player races or less human monsters or creatures.)

 

Unattractive traits table d20

  1. unpleasant natural scent
  2. obvious signs of disease such as skin discoloration, sores, or obvious flesh rot.
  3. too much or too little hair
  4. terrible taste in dress or jewelry
  5. poor personal grooming or uncleanliness.
  6. unpleasant voice
  7. utter lack of manners or etiquette
  8. unnerving personal habit such as talking to self or twitching.
  9. obvious deformity such as shriveled limb, or ruined part of the body.
  10. either exceptionally fat or skinny
  11. obsesses over a single topic and talks of nothing else.
  12. obnoxious enormous ego.
  13. keeps very bad company
  14. bad teeth
  15. unpleasant ethics that clash with the party that the person openly shares.
  16. obviously aberrant influence or touched by a lower plane.
  17. really bad tempered
  18. Morose, with no sense of humor
  19. overly loquacious.
  20. overwhelmingly stupid

 

Attractive traits d20

  1. excellent taste in dress and/or jewelry
  2. interests align closely to one or more members of the party.
  3. good sense of humor
  4. good natural scent or tasteful use of perfume.
  5. excellent sense of humor
  6. hair or eye color attractive to one or more members of the party or their players.
  7. In great physical condition.
  8. excellent conversationalist.
  9. impeccable personal grooming.
  10. well-educated and knowledgeable
  11. talented in one or more artistic abilities.
  12. ethics are close to party goals.
  13. kind
  14. witty
  15. strong physical attractiveness.
  16. pleasant voice
  17. energetic
  18. pleasantly optimistic or alternatively not overly perky or prone to dullness.
  19. interesting personal life or history.
  20. pleasantly complimentary to one or more party members.

 

I hope you enjoyed this installment of Freestyle Friday and I hope to see you again next week for another visit.

 

About the author: Zachary is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check.” He enjoys classic lit, bad sci-fi and monster flicks, and playing with his rats and dogs. He enjoys his -17 charisma modifier and his -6 strength one.

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Simply Divine: Servants of Auril

Servants of Auril

 

By

Zachary

Note because of how I must approach books due to scanning necessities or use of audio text-to-speech, proper names are spelled phonetically as I heard them with my best guess as to their spelling and I might be off.

 

 

Outside my house right now it is the coldest day it’s been all winter. It is so cold in fact that the temperature inside my house is lower than the temperature it will be outside in a couple days as the weathermen are predicting a sudden and over 50-degree warmup over the next couple of days.

 

Global Climate change, pollution, and just plain weird weather in my area are what I can blame for this strangeness. I don’t have the excuses your heroes in D&D might resort to for a sudden and brief cold snap.

 

I want to talk about one of those possible reasons today, that is, Auril and devotees of her faith and what they can mean to your game.

 

Auril is also known as Lady Frostmantle and she has been described in D&D sourcebooks as being a rather attractive, yet angular blue-skinned woman in furs and being pulled along in a sleigh. This sort of reminds me of the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia, particularly when she first appears to Edmund in the live-action film from a few years ago. She seems rather lovely and she plays the subtle temptress there very well. Later in the film she is distinctly more barbaric and horrible once her true colors are being flown. This might in fact be a way to introduce her into your campaign in a wintertime adventure, particularly if your version of the Realms or your own world that still features her as a goddess is a world like the Greek or Norse mythic worlds where the gods often appeared in person.

 

Even if you don’t use Auril in this way, her clergy could be very similar. In “The year of Rogue Dragons” trilogy, there was a chosen of Auril named Iarehacklia who uses charms and her own stellar looks to try and tempt the cleric of Lathendar to her side. Because of “The Sword Coast Adventurers Guide,” This may not be canon any longer as they say that the clerics of Auril are Celibate, however, you as DM or your DM are ultimately the arbiters of such things so the decision is up to you.

 

In regard to locations, Luscan is possibly an excellent spot to have an Auril-themed adventure. The city celebrates an Aurilite holiday where people march through the streets in the dead of winter to appease the cruel goddess. There are three ways I see that a holiday adventure could be set here. The first of these is the players must endure the harsh test of endurance for some reason. The second is that despite Auril’s evil alignment and the general evil characters of Luscan, the festival must be protected from an outside threat so it can be completed. Perhaps a prophecy states that if a certain bad event happens here, something even worse might be set in motion, or perhaps Auril’s wrath might descend on the city, hurting a lot of horrible people, but not leaving the little guys unscathed either. If your party is a fan of helping the common people, this might be your avenue.

 

The third might be something that imperils the players at the hands of Auril later, but involves actually disrupting the festival itself by their own hands. Perhaps Auril will lose significant power without the strange worship offered up in this celebration.

 

Auril and her followers might not in fact, always be enemies. She is the Goddess of winter, and though it means hardship and lean times for many, in many ways, winter is an incubation and recuperation period for the land. Perhaps the problem with a particular year is Auril is actually crowded out and the winter is unbelievably short, thus making the spring brought in by Lathendar much more problematic than before. Perhaps extending the winter might actually be a goal of the party in a high-level adventure.

 

Of course, the obvious large-scale threat by Auril or her followers is an unusually cruel or long winter. Ending such a situation might be a goal of the party. But even if Auril and her followers are not the current enemies, a number of threats could arise from the extension of winter or severe winters being more widespread, listed below.

 

1. Large-scale unrest from lack of food or wood, possibly threatening forests and their dwellers.

2. Incursions of cold-climate creatures outside of their normal ranges

3. Blockage of navigation routes during a time of crisis

4. Large-scale conversions to darker powers such as Auril herself, devils, demons, winter Fey, or other evil Gods and Goddesses.

5. Emergence of the cult of elemental cold (to be described in a later column.)

 

And as for players or friendly NPcs that follow Auril? How can they be placed in a non-evil campaign? Here are a few ideas.

 

1. It is good at the time that the winter either occur or last longer, thus putting a character of evil alignment in the right in spite of themselves.

2. Many druids follow Auril according to “Sword Coast Adventurers’ Guide” as one of the eight gods they revere. Perhaps a druid character, or one that follows the great circle of some similar class such as ranger or barbarian (as many barbarians follow Auril) have a connection to her and thus take the grim look of wintery lands more seriously. These characters might be harsh but they need not necessarily be evil.

3. A character in the cleric class might just be naïve and not fully understand their goddess. Or a Warden paladin (oath of Protection I believe or Vigilance) might guard an arctic or subarctic land, thus bringing them in closer to the goddess.

 

I hope you enjoyed your look at Lady Frostmantle and I hope you are able to find a place for her in any of your wintery adventures.

 

About the author:

Zachary is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check.” And has been interested in D&D for the past 23 years ever since he got the core rulebooks of 2nd edition. He enjoys classic literature, bad monster flicks and his pet rats and dogs. He recently tried to ask Auril out on a date but she gave him the cold shoulder, and arm, and neck, and ear, and… well you get the idea. He is now recovering from severe frostbite.

 

 

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Freestyle Friday 1: recurrence

Freestyle Friday: Recurrence

 

By.

Zachary

 

Hello all! Welcome to Freestyle Friday. This set of articles is dedicated to rapid brainstorming and features the workings of our minds as we develop possible content for games. Nothing here is polished, nor do I claim that these ideas we come up with are balanced or necessarily canon when we connect them to a world or monster type.

 

Yesterday was Groundhog Day, and in honor of the movie of the same title, I thought a set of concepts based around recurrence would be appropriate for this article today.

 

I will provide 2 monsters and one magical item today. So without further ado, let’s get started.

 

  1. Hobgoblin Eternal Legion

 

Among the monster races, hobgoblins are among my favorites and I even like to play them as PCs when possible, so it is no surprise that these creatures popped into my head today.

 

Hobgoblins believe that when they die they will go on to Acheron to fight alongside Moglubyet in his eternal war against Grummsh. This creature is a realization of that. As the battles rage, the hobgoblins are destroyed and reformed several times, thus incorporating the experience of several military careers into a single entity as time progresses. And in times of need, the Hobgoblin Eternal Legion can draw on the actual lives he or she has lived upon either the prime material plane or upon Acheron.

 

I thought of how to stat this creature, and realized probably this monster is more of an encounter rather than a single entity. But here is what I would do to make it work.

 

  1. The creature starts as a hobgoblin general
  2. Change its size to large and change its type to fiend (it is from Acheron, one of the lower planes)
  3. optionally, give it a few offensive spells associated with the War Domain for clerics or some offensive wizard or Sorcerer spells, probably of the evocation school.
  4. Give it the following abilities “1/day: The hobgoblin eternal legion summons two hobgoblin captains, their stats are identical to ordinary hobgoblin captains except they are classified as fiends. They act on the hobgoblin Eternal Legion’s initiative count, but always after him and before ordinary summoned hobgoblins” “1/day: The Hobgoblin Eternal Legion summons 1d4+1 hobgoblins in a 15 by 15 square area within 100 feet that it can see. These hobgoblins act on the Hobgoblin Eternal Legion’s initiative count, going after the Eternal Legion and any summoned captains. They have statistic identical to ordinary hobgoblins but their creature type is “fiend”)
  5. attach the following caveat to the hobgoblin Eternal Legion: “Banishment vulnerability: Any summoned hobgoblins created by the Hobgoblin Eternal Legion modify any spell that banishes them to a demiplane or another plane “The duration of any banishment spell to the summoned hobgoblin becomes “permanent.’”
  6. Optionally, if the hobgoblin Eternal Legion in question has had a varied career, one might replace a summoned captain with either an Iron Shadow or one of the adepts of devastation presented in “Volo’s guide to monsters” since they are close to the same strength.

 

Each of the summoned hobgoblins is meant to represent a past life or career. If you like, you could have some sort of condition for the creature’s complete destruction, such as destroying the hobgoblin that represents its original life or having to destroy the Eternal Legion’s weapon or armor.

 

Quickling Time Adept

 

Because of the curse affecting quicklings as mentioned in “Volo’s Guide to Monsters” I got to thinking about the extremely short-lived fey and ways they might develop to cheat death, as they only live to be 15 or so according to the book. Since time moves extremely quickly for the little monsters, I’d thought about one trying to master magic dealing with time in order to prolong its own life or possibly reverse the curse put on it by the Queen of Air and Darkness.

 

I also Thought of this because I always want to picture the little runts running around in Red suits with yellow trim, or yellow suits with Red trim for any that happen to be rebels, since I like that particular comic book hero so much.

 

This idea as it occurred to me a few minutes ago seemed to do more with time than recurrence, but then I thought of the difficulty of a creature with only 15 years learning any significant magic. I had the idea that they would have their own abilities that would allow them to live the same time period of their lives over and over again with accumulated knowledge in order to become more and more powerful.

 

Here is what I’d do to make these little guys.

 

  1. increase the quickling’s hp significantly if you want it to be a tough fight
  2. as it is learning magic, the intelligence should also be raised to something more appropriate for a skilled wizard.
  3. give it the slow, haste, and time stop spells (the first 2 3/day, the last one 1/day)
  4. give the Quickling the following ability (Aura of warped time: any creature within 10 feet of the quickling treats all terrain as difficult terrain, costing 1 extra foot of movement for each foot traveled. Additionally, all creatures other than quicklings can only make one melee attack per round, even if they normally can do more and cannot take reactions.)
  5. to reflect how slowly something might travel to the quickling through its aura, you might want to give it the monk’s catch missiles feature and perhaps even evasion.

 

This concludes the monster section of the article, now I will provide a magical item for both players and DMs to use.

 

Time Cell

 

This large metal cell is meant not for holding individuals or object, but actually moments in time. Using this device a creature can prepare itself in case of a future accident for a return or an object might be restored in case of a possible destruction in the future.

 

This cell can hold one medium target or less that is either an object or a creature. When this device is activated, it records the exact nature of the creature or object in question for later retrieval. If the cell is activated with no object or creature inside it, the previous information it had on a creature or object is destroyed and cannot be retrieved.

 

If information on a creature is retrieved, the creature emerges from the cell with the exact number of hp, inventory, conditions, memories, alignment and in the case of PCs, level it had when the object was last used. There is a 50% chance on each significant event that can be attributed to the creature that such event is erased from history (roll a d20 and any odd result is removed from history) Similar conditions exist for objects.

 

There is a cumulative 10% chance per use of the cell that a malfunction occurs in recording. In the event of a malfunction, consult the options below, make up your own, or have the DM select one.

 

Creature table.

  1. Data is lost and the creature is destroyed, only can be salvaged by a wish or similar magic
  2. The creature loses most of its memories or has memories from someone that previously used the cell
  3. The creature has aged about 10% of their race’s lifespan
  4. The creature has gotten younger by 20% of their race’s expected lifespan)
  5. An event in the creature’s past has fundamentally changed (for example, a battle their kingdom won might have been lost instead)
  6. The creature’s alignment is changed.
  7. The creature’s race changes
  8. Roll 2d6 and select 2 options, removing 1 and 8 from the table.)

 

Objects

 

D8

  1. The object is destroyed and cannot be recreated short of a wish.
  2. if the object was magical, it is no longer so
  3. if the object was non-magical, it is now.
  4. The object, becomes far more powerful if magical
  5. if the object is magical, it becomes much weaker
  6. The material the object is made from changes fundamentally.
  7. the object becomes sentient based on a creature that previously used the cell.
  8. the object is duplicated.

 

Thank you for joining me on this first installment of Freestyle Friday. I hope to see you again. And please, leave comments so I can better suit this column to what you’d like to see.

 

About the author

Zachary is the original DM for the group but has recently had the pleasure of sharing this role with Kevin. He is a fan of all things Dungeons and Dragons and loves classic lit and bad monster and horror flicks. He is also blind.

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Welcome!

Welcome to the Home of the Companions of the Perception Check. Here we will be talking all things Dungeons and Dragons. We hope to have live play posted with two different campaigns soon!

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