Saturday, July 16, 2016

Rewriting the B/X Cleric [Part 2]

A cleric is the chosen champion of a god or goddess, trained in fighting and able to cast protective and restorative spells. Clerics are the adventurous crusaders of the temple hierarchy, righting wrongs and performing heroic quests on behalf of the faith. While not as capable in combat as a fighter, clerics are able to turn the tide of battle with their powerful magic to heal and protect their allies and smite their foes.

Wisdom is the prime requisite for clerics. A wisdom score of 13 of greater will give the cleric a bonus on earned experience.




RESTRICTIONS: Clerics use six-sided dice (d6) to determine their hit points. All clerics must be Lawful in alignment. A cleric who is no longer Lawful loses the ability to cast spells. Clerics have the use of all armor and shield, but may not use missile weapons (no arrows!) and are restricted to the use of Holy Swords and cannot normally wield other types of magical weaponry.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Clerics have the special ability to turn undead (such as skeletons, zombies, and ghouls). When an undead monster is encountered, the cleric may attempt to “Turn” the monster instead of fighting. A cleric may not attempt to turn the same creature more than once during the same 10-minute adventuring turn. If a cleric Turns an undead monster, the monster may not approach the cleric and will flee from the area if it can. Turning undead otherwise functions as described in the B/X rulebooks.

When a cleric reaches 2nd level and has had a chance to prove himself, he receives the ability to cast spells. A list of clerical spells and their explanations is given below.



FIRST LEVEL CLERIC SPELLS

Cure Light Wounds
Range: Touch
Duration: Instant

This spell heals 1d6 + 1 damage done to any living creature touched by the cleric. It may also be used to cure paralysis, but what doing so it does not cure any points of damage. Alternatively, it may be used to deal 1d6 + 1 damage to undead creatures unless the creatures make a saving throw vs. Spells.

Detect Evil
Range: 60’
Duration: 6 turns

This spell detects the presence of evil intentions or objects, places, and things enchanted with evil magic, causing them to glow. The exact definition of “evil” is left to each referee, and player should all be in agreement as to what constitutes evil in the game world.

Detect Magic
Range: 60’
Duration: 2 turns

This spell determines the presence of magic, causing any person, place, of thing enchanted with magic to glow.

Light
Range: 60’
Duration: 12 turns

This spell casts light in a circle, 30’ in diameter. It is bright enough to read by, but not as blinding as full daylight. If cast on a creature’s eyes, the creature may make a saving throw. On a failed saving throw, the victim is blinded for 12 turns. Blinded creatures receive a -4 penalty on all “to hit” rolls. This spell will cancel a Darkness spell if cast against it and vice versa.

Protection from Evil
Range: Self
Duration: 12 turns

This spell circles the cleric with a magical barrier that wards out evil. The spell serves as some protection from “evil” attacks by adding +2 to the cleric’s saving throws and subtracted -2 from the “to hit” rolls of evil opponents.

Purify Food and Water
Range: 10’
Duration: Instant

This spell will restore spoiled or poisoned food and water and render it free of poison and disease. It will purify enough normal food and water to feed a dozen people. Creatures created by the magical enchantment of water, such as water elementals or water weirds, must make a saving throw vs. spells or take 3d6 + 3 points of damage when affected by this spell.


SECOND LEVEL CLERIC SPELLS

Bless
Range: 60’
Duration: 6 turns

This spell may only be cast on friendly creatures not yet in melee. All creatures in 15’ radius area within range receive a +1 bonus to morale and on to hit and damage rolls. Alterative, this spell may be cast over a vial of purified water to create Holy Water.

Find Traps
Range: 30’
Duration: 2 turns

This spell makes a trapped area glow when approached within 30’. It reveals presence both mechanical and magical traps, but not the type of trap, how the trap is triggered, or how it can be disarmed.

Guidance
Range: Self
Duration: Instant

The spell grants the cleric the answer to one yes or no question. The answer may come in the form of a ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘maybe.’ The spell has limited foresight and cannot foresee potential consequences more than 1 hour in the future.

Hold Person 
Range: 60’
Duration: 1 turn

This spell will affect any human or human-like creature. It will not affect undead or creatures larger than an ogre. The victim must make a save vs. Spells or be paralyzed. If cast on a single person, that person must save vs. Spells with a -2 penalty to the die roll. If cast on a group, it will affect 1d4 persons, but with no penalty to the saving throw, and will always effect creatures with fewer hit dice first.

Know Alignment 
Range: 10’
Duration: 1 round

This spell reveals the alignment (lawful, neutral, or chaotic) of one creature, place (such as a temple), or enchanted item (a magic sword).

Resist Fire
Range: 30’
Duration: 2 turns

This spells prevents one creature from being harmed by heat or normal fire for the duration of the spell. The creature also receives a +2 to saving throws vs. magical fire, including a dragon’s breath, fireballs, etc. Damage from magical fire is reduced by one point per die.


THIRD LEVEL CLERIC SPELLS

Call Steed
Range: 30 feet
Duration: Instant

This spell calls a strong, loyal, and semi-intelligence steed to your location. The cleric’s steed will arrive in 1 turn after the spell is cast and normally steed takes the form of a heavy warhorse with maximum hit points, but may also attract a light warhorse, hippogriff, pegasus, or griffon, at the DM’s discretion as warranted by the situation, such as if cast while on the Elemental Plane of Air. The cleric’s steed serves as a mount both in and out of combat. The steed remains until killed or dismissed. If the cleric’s steed is killed, another steed cannot be called for 1 year and a day.

Continual Light
Range: 60’
Duration: 24 hours

This spell creates a 60’ sphere of light centered on an object. The light is equal in intensity to full daylight and lasts for 24 hours. If cast on an opponent’s eyes, the creature must save vs. Spells or be blinded until the spell’s duration expires or the spell is dispelled.

Cure Disease
Range: 30’
Duration: Instant

This spell will cure the recipient of any disease, such as lycanthropy and mummy rot. Cure disease will also kill green slime without allowing a saving throw.

Locate Object
Range: 240’ (indoors) or 10 miles (outdoors)
Duration: Instant

For this spell to be able to locate a specific object, the spell caster must know exactly what the objects looks like (size, color, shape, etc.). A general type of object (such as a flight of stairs) can also be detected by this spell. The spell cannot, however, locate a creature. The spell will point towards the nearest desired object if within range, indicated the direction, but not the distance.

Remove Curse
Range: Touch
Duration: Instant

This spell will remove the effects of a curse put on a character or free a character from a cursed magic item. A single remove curse spell will only remove one curse.

Striking
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 turn

This spell make one normal weapon do an additional 2d6 points of damage per attack. The weapon will cause the extra damage for as long as the spell lasts. It does not add to the chance to hitting, but does allow the non-magical weaponry to damage creatures that can only be hit by magic weapons.


FOURTH LEVEL CLERIC SPELLS

Create Water
Range: 10’
Duration: Instant

With this spell, the cleric summons forth an enchanted spring form the ground that will provide enough water for 12 men and their mounts for one day (about 50 gallons). For every cleric levels above 8th, twelve addition men and mounts can be supplied.

Cure Serious Wounds
Range: Touch
Duration: Instant

This spell will cure one living creature of 2d6 + 2 points of damage. Alternatively, it may be used to deal 2d6 + 2 damage to undead creatures unless the creatures make a saving throw vs. Spells.

Locate Creature
Range: 240’ (indoors) or 10 miles (outdoors)
Duration: Instant

For this spell to be able to locate a specific creatures, the spell caster must know exactly what the creature looks like (type, gender, coloration, etc.). A general type of creature (such as a hill giant) can also be detected by this spell. The spell will point towards the nearest desired creature if within range, indicated the direction, but not the distance.

Neutralize Poison
Range: Touch
Duration: Instant or 6 turns

This spell will cancel the effects of poison and revive a poisoned character if cast within ten rounds. it can also be cast on a poison, poisonous item, or poisonous creature to make it (temporarily) harmless. It acts only on poison present at the time it is cast.

Protection from Evil 10’ Radius
Range: Self
Duration: 12 turns

This spell circles the caster with a magical barrier that will protect all friendly creatures within 10’ of the cleric. This barrier will move with the cleric. The spell serves as some protection from “evil” attacks by adding +2 to the cleric’s saving throws and subtracted -2 from the “to hit” rolls of evil opponents. The spell will also keep out melee attacks from summoned monsters, but not missile or magical attacks from these creatures. Summoned creature may engage in melee only if any of the protected creature attempts to attack the creature in hand-to-hand combat.

Speak with Dead
Range: 10’
Duration: 1 turn

This spell gives the cleric the power to communicate with the spirits of creatures who have died within range of the spell. The cleric may ask up to 3 questions of the spirits, though they may not necessarily be willing to give up their knowledge easily.


FIFTH LEVEL CLERIC SPELLS

Commune
Range: Self
Duration: 3 turns

This spell allows the cleric to ask questions of the greater powers that be. The cleric may ask three questions that can be answered after casting this spell. The powers will do their best to provide reliable, truthful answers to the cleric’s questions. This spell can be cast no more than once per month.


Create Food
Range: 10’
Duration: Instant

With this spell, the cleric may create enough food to feed 12 men and their mounts for one day. For every level the cleric is above 8th, he or she is able to create food for an additional 12 men and their mounts.

Death Ward
Range: Touch
Duration: 2 turns

This spell grants a measure of protection from death to a touched creature. Until the spell ends, the next time the recipient would drop to 0 or fewer hit points or would be killed instantly by death magic, he or she is instead reduced to 1 hit points and the spell ends.

Dispel Evil
Range: 30’
Duration: 1 turn

This spell will banish or destroy any summoned or undead monster that comes in range if the creature fails its saving throw vs. Spells. If the saving throw is successful, the creature will immediately flee from the affected area. The caster must remain stationary and concentrate to maintain this effect. Alternatively the spell can be cast against a creature or objects. This spell will also free a creature within range from any curses and cursed items or removes all “evil” magic from an object.

Quest
Range: 30’
Duration: Special

This spell forces the character it is cast on to perform some special task or quest as commanded by the cleric at the time the spell is cast. A successful save vs. Spell will result in the spell having no effect. A typical task might include slaying a certain monster, rescuing a maiden, obtaining a magic item for the caster, or going on a pilgrimage. Such tasks may not be suicidal. Once the task is complete the spell ends. If the character refuses to go on the quest, he or she will be cursed in a manner determined by the cleric at the time of casting until the quest is resumed.

Raise Dead
Range: 30’
Duration: Instant

By means of this spell, the cleric can rise any human, dwarf, halfling, elf (or any other type of creature at the discretion of the DM) from the dead. An 8th level cleric can raise a body up to eight days old. For each level the cleric is above 8th, four days are added to this time. A raised character has 1 hit points and cannot fight, cast spells, use abilities, carry heavy loads, move more than half speed, or regain hit points. These effects will be healed after two full weeks of complete bedrest. Alternatively, this spell will slay one undead creature it is cast against unless it makes a saving throw vs. Spells.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Rewriting the B/X Cleric [Part 1]

Cleric spell list has always confused me. While most of the spells seem to fit the theme and role of the class (detect evil), I have been consistently off-put by others (sticks to snakes). I have heard that some of the more colorful spells (part water, for example, but that's a magic-user spells, anyway) are biblical references. Maybe they are. I don't know. The Bible (author unknown) has never struck me as the type of literature I would enjoy, although I know that many others do.

For reference, lets look at the spells that have nothing to do with smiting, healing, divination, or protection:

* Silence 15' radius
* Snake Charm
* Speak with Animals
* Growth of Animals
* Speak with Plants
* Sticks to Snakes
* Insect Plague

Notice anything? Do any patters stick out to you? 

With the exception of Silence 15' radius, which looks more like a magic-user spell, all of these spells are nature-related, which to me always scream druid.

Maybe it's because I always associated druids more with magic-users than clerics, but these seven spells continue to be off-putting to me. Why should Poseidon grant his followers Insect Plague or Thor allows his champions to charm snakes. Where are the thunderbolts? Where are the tidal waves?

There is, however, a reason why clerics don't have access to call lightning and control water. Clerics are not generic priests.

They have more in common with the classical image of a Paladin or one of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table than that of the champion of Greek or Norse god. Now, if I am going to interpret the B/X cleric as  a paladin, why not bring it full circle and update the spell list?

As it turns out, teachers don't work during the summer holidays and I always need more excuses for delaying progress on my novel (I hit 100 pages today, by the way!). 

[Tune back in tomorrow for part 2]

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

OSR College of Fire Magic - Proof of Concept

For those of you who haven't heard of it, DragonQuest is a little bit like RIFTS - great ideas, terrible implementation. One of those great ideas is to break up all magic-users into Colleges of Magic. A character may belong to only one magical college, making an adept from the College of Celestial Magics completely different from one of the College of Earth Magics.

These days, I'm interested in games a little lighter than DragonQuest, 5e D&D, Dungeon World, Risus, etc. One thing that has always frustrated me, however, if being unable to capture the DragonQuest-style magic-users with any of those systems. Honestly, I've tried dozens of times to recreate them in 5e D&D, but have never been satisfied with the result.

Today I tried putting together another DragonQuest hack, this time for OSR - type games. After sketching it out in my head, it seemed decent enough, so I typed it up the College of Fire Magic as a proof of concept.

I'm interested to know what you all think:

  • Too simple/complicated?
  • Not flexible enough?
  • Too weak / overpowered?


College of Fire Magics

The College of Fire Magics is concerning with the manipulation of elemental fire and is considered the most straightforward and destructive form of magic. Adepts from the College of Fire Magics is called Fire Mages or Pyromancers.

Mana Dice: You have a number of d6 Mana Dice equal to one-half your level, rounded up.

Using your Pyromancy abilities usually requires you to roll one or more Mana Dice. Any Mana Die that results in a 1, is expended and cannot be rolled again until recovered.

Mana dice are recovered after eight hours of rest or after 1 hour of rest in a mana-rich area.


Pyromancy

Fire size Table: Click to Enlarge

Create Fire: You may roll 1 Mana Die to produce a Tiny-sized magical fire within 15 feet + 5 feet per caster level. This fire may be increased by 1 or more size categories by rolling the appropriate number of Mana Die. Any creature occupying a space in which the fire is conjured takes damage according to the size of the fire  (save vs. Dragon Breath for half damage).

Alter Fire: You may roll 1 Mana Die to increase or decrease the size of many normal or magical fire by 1 size category, plus 1 for every 5 caster levels. The fire consumes fuel and deals damage as appropriate for its new size.

Flame Blade: You may roll 1 or more Mana Dice to cause a weapon to become wreathed in flames. For 1 minute, that weapon deals additional fire damage equal to the number Mana Dice you rolled.

Move Fire: You may take a fire, equal to or smaller than the maximum size you may conjure using create fire with your current Mana Dice, and move it up to 30 feet. The fire dissipates at the end of your turn if it does not have a new source of fuel. Moving a fire into a space that is occupied by a creature causes that creature to take damage (save vs. Dragon Breath for half damage).

Shape Fire: You may roll 1 Mana Die to reshape an already existing fire into any shape or configuration, such as a pillar or wall of fire so long as the fire continues to extend from its fuel source. Should the fire extend into space that is occupied by a creature, that creature takes damage from the fire (save vs. Dragon Breath for half damage).

Sustain Fire: You may roll 1 Mana Die to sustain a normal or magical fire without a fuel source until the end of your next turn. A fire without a fuel source must be sustained each round or it will go out.


Pyromancy Rituals

Summon Fire Elemental: You may spend 1 hour to conjure a Fire Elemental. The size of the fire elemental is based on the number of Mana Dice you expend at when you begin the ritual. At the completion of the ritual, the Fire Elemental is summoned forth. The Fire Elemental is, at least initially, friendly towards its summoner. In order to sustain the Fire Elemental on the material plane, the elemental requires a steady stream of mana. Therefore, the caster is unable to regain the Mana Dice expended during the summoning process until the Fire Elemental has been dismissed.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Musing on Post-Apocalyptic Science Fantasy Gaming


For the past few weeks, Jack Vance has consumed my nightly reading, specifically his stories from the Dying Earth (rereading) and the Planet Adventure (first time). Each time I put down the book, I end of thinking about Geoffrey McKinney’s science fantasy masterpiece, Carcosa,

In some ways, both the Dying Earth and the Planet of Adventure remind me of Carcosa, at least superficially. All three worlds are ancient, filled with wonder and the unknown. Similarly, they all contain magic and technology juxtaposed against one another. Planet of Adventure is even filled with primitive tribes of outrageously colored inhabitants struggling to survive on an unforgiving planet.

On the other hand, both of Vance's worlds support a completely different world-view and different types of challenges. Carcosa, at least from my reading, supports a play-style that is primarily man vs. nature (or a post-apocalyptic, radioactive, mutated, otherworldly mess). Adventurers must spend as much time hiding from the unimaginable horrors that walk the dunes and haunted the forests, as they do delving into unknown regions for gold and glory. Depending on one’s reading of the setting, gold and glory might even be completely non-existent.

Comparatively, the many scattered tribes of brightly hued men seem to serve as a place of refuge. Despite racism and xenophobia, the lowly race of men is alone in the word and must find their strength in unity and congregation. The inhabitants of Carcosa don't have enough time to war with one another. They are too busy failing to provide food and shelter to their own miserable tribe.

In ancient times, warfare was primarily concerned with the acquisition of resources – land, natural resources (fertile soil, access to iron or other useful/valuable metals, etc.), and slaves – and glory. On the planet Carcosa, land is abundant and in low demand. Natural resources are scarce and most hexes are probably devoid of any worthwhile resources. There's little purpose in capturing your neighbor's land when his village or citadel is just as poor as yours.

Finally, we come to slaves. Some may make the point that slavery may be common on Carcosa, fueled by a strong suspicion of outsiders and the need for additional labor. And while this may be true, slavery has at least one major downside. Most slaves means more mouth to feed. Most Carsosian villages contain no more than 300 residents, some as little as 30. I, therefore, argue that the ability for a settlement to survive on Carcosa is a direct function of its size. The settlement must be large enough to defend itself again outside threats (the unexpected arrival of mutant dinosaurs), but small enough to go unnoticed by insane sorcerers in need of unwilling sacrifices and able to support itself through hunting and primitive agriculture. The smaller the settlement the quicker it is to react to certain threats. It is easier to relocate 100 people than it is to relocate 5,000, for example.



That's one way to read Carcosa, but it's certainly not the only way.

In fact, having only seen the original printing which include not a single piece of artwork other than the small silhouette of a city on the front cover, my interpretation could differ wildly compared to someone reading the LotFP edition of Carcosa. Art direction matters!

One could also argue that the abundance of castles and citadels informs the reader that the world of Carcosa, at least on the surface, is, in many ways, no different than any other dark fantasy world, except that instead of fighting trolls and goblins, adventurers match their skills against horrors from the star and greedy sorcerers, corrupted by their thirst for power and an ancient darkness. It is the DM's decision to decide how much technology and how many Cthulhoid monstrosities to include (or not include). One could run an entire Carcosa campaign without the character ever encountering a piece of advanced technology a single old one. Characters may not even know the difference between a magical wand and a raygun or be able to tell the different between a mutated dinosaur and a spawn of Shub-Niggurath.

When comparing these two versions of Carcosa, I personally feel that, as a game setting (as opposed to the setting a short story or novel), the second seems a lot more fun and exciting. The first may have more depth and make more sense, but it just doesn’t resonate with me as a place I would like to adventure in. The first view is bleak, grimy, and hopeless. The other is bursting with color, life, and mystery. It is a world in which an assaulting a castle in equally likely to be met by a cavalry charge as Word War II tank being driven out from behind the drawbridge. 

Now that is a world in which I want to adventure!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Words of Wisdom



After a month with no sleep and constant running around. I have come to a new conclusion: Don't start new commitments just after starting a brand new NGO and your wife having a baby.

Turns out, that, no, the urban myth that YES, you can just shove the baby back in the womb and wait another month is actually false. And with everything going on -work, NGO, theater, novel writing, new baby, new blog - something had to go.

Here, the good news, though, we might be back (no promises). School is over, which means I have three months where I get paid not to go to work (YES!!!!), I have new material to share. This time it's not 5e, but old OSR type stuff, including a new take on the Cleric and a crazy, new post-apocalyptic fantasy world.

Let's get cracking!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Bard: College of the Muses

Designer's Notes: This is my first time creating a Bard College. I found this process significantly more difficult than creating cleric domains. Firstly, there are only 2 examples provided in the PHB, and they provide very few  guidelines as to what sorts of abilities are appropriate. Design-wise I am considered switching the levels of the mercy for heroes and true masterpiece features. As always feedback is welcome, even if it's only to tell me that I need to take the whole thing back to the drawing board.




College of the Muses
While all bards find inspiration in the world around them, only a select few are blessed with the gift of the Muses. Whether in art, poetry, or sculpture some bards find ways to express themselves beyond a simple song.  It is an even rarer gift, however, for your action and succeeds to become an inspiration for others. Like how the Muses serve to inspire you, your achievements serves as a motivation and impulse that stirs other to even greater success.


Bonus Proficiencies
When you join the College of the Muses at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with any three tools of your choice.


Font of Inspiration
Starting at 3rd level, whenever you score a critical hit or roll natural 20 on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw you have proficiency with, you can immediately grant any creature other than yourself within 60 feet you who can hear you an inspiration die without expending one of your uses.


Mercy for Heroes
At 6th Level, the presence of the muses raises your allies’ courage to new heights. A creature that has a Bardic Inspiration die from you can roll that die and regain hit points equal to the result + proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.


True Masterpiece
At 14th Level, you have advantage on Charisma (persuasion) checks when interacting with anyone who has viewed any work of art you have created using a tool with which you are proficient within the last 10 minutes. This effect lasts until you finish a short or extended rest.



Download the PDF Here!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Barbarian: Path of the Thaneborn v.2

Yesterday, after seven hours in labor, my wive gave birth to out first daughter, Elizabeth. Needless to say, I am dreadfully behind on my blogging. For that, I apologize. Instead of offering up a new batch of monsters (that will have to wait for another day), I would like to present the next draft of the Thaneborn Barbarian.

Designer's Notes: The new draft replaces the level 10 feature, which before gave proficiency with an additional skills (chosen from history, insight, intimidate, and persuasion), now gives the barbarian advantage on intimidate, and persuasion rolls made for a short time after raging. Theaneborn charge proved too finicky during our playtest of this subclass and has been replaced with a defender-like ability, furious challenge.

As always, let me know what you think. Feedback is always welcome and appreciated.




Path of the Thaneborn v.2

While most barbarians unleash their inner rage through destruction, others are born leaders, holding positions of great prestige in their tribe. These thanes are not only ruthless warriors, but inspirational war-leaders, whose furious tendencies serve not only to devour their foes, but also to inspire their allies.


Triumphant Shout
Starting when you select this path at 3rd level, your battle prowess begins to inspire those around you. Whenever you reduce a creature to 0 hit points, you and a number of allies equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1) within 30 feet who can see and hear you gain temporary points equal to your barbarian level + your charisma modifier.

Inspiring Presence
Beginning at 6th level, your presence and headfast resilience allows your allies stand in the face of fear and uncertainly, never surrender, even under the effects of charms and enchantments. Whenever you are raging, you and all allies within 30 feet gain advantage on saving throws to against being frightened or charmed.


Words of the Victor
Starting at 10th level, you fighting prowess and reputation begins to give you an edge in diplomacy and negotiation. After you finish raging and until your begin your next short rest, you have advantage on all Charisma (Intimidation) and Charisma (Persuasion) checks.


Furious Challenge
Starting at 14th level, whenever you are raging, you can let out a furious challenge that calls an opponent to arms as a bonus action. Choose a creature within 30 feet of you that can see and hear. That creature must make a Wisdom saving throw with a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. One a failed save, any attacks that do not include you as a target are made with disadvantage and cannot willingly move away from you. This effect ends whenever you stop raging or if you willingly move more than 30 feet away from the target.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cleric: Revelry Domain



Revelry Domain

The revelry domain embodies deities associated with wine, feasts, merriment, drunkenness, gluttony, debauchery, and ritual madness, including Dionysus, Olidammara, and the Devourer. It reflects both the fleeting joy and unshakable depression and confusion of drinking, feasting, and carousing. Here nature and civilization collide, turn men into beasts and beasts into men – exploring all of the indulgences that life has to offer, from feats and drunkenness, to heroism and ravenous bloodshed.


Revelry Domain Spells

Cleric Level
Spells
1st
Goodberry, Sleep
3rd
Enthrall, Suggestion
5th
Create Food and Water, Plant Growth
7th
Confusion, Polymorph
9th
Awaken, Dream


Bonus Cantrip
At 1st level, you learn the vicious mockery cantrip if you don’t know it already. It counts as a cleric spell for you.


Gift of Merriment
At 1st level, whenever an ally within 30 feet of you that you can see makes a weapon attack roll, you can use your reaction to instill in that ally the spirit of merriment, giving your ally advantage on the attack roll.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (a minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.


Channel Divinity: Spirit of Intoxication
Beginning at 2nd level, you can use your channel divinity as an action on your turn to disorient one creature within 30 feet overcoming that creature in a fit of uncontrollable drunkenness. The creature must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed saving throw, the creature is put under the effects of the confusion spell. It cannot take reactions and must roll a d10 at the start of each of its turns to determine its behavior for that turn. The creature may repeat this save at the beginning of each of its turn. This effect requires concentration to sustain and lasts for a maximum of 1 minute. Creatures immune to the charmed condition are immune to this effect.


Channel Divinity: Feast of Slaughter
Beginning at 6th level, you can use your Channel Divinity as an action on your turn to invoke the spirit of delicious slaughter and madness. For the next minute, any time a creature, friend or foe, within 30 of you that you can see is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points, you and all allies within 30 feet regain hit points equal to your proficiency bonus + Wisdom modifier.


Divine Strike
Starting at 8th level, You gain the ability to infuse your weapon strikes with divine energy. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d8 psychic damage to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.


Reason Through Madness
Starting at 17th level, you gain resistance to psychic damage and have advantage on saving throw to avoid becoming frightened or charmed or to avoid the effects of confusion.

Furthermore, whenever you succeed a saving throw to resist psychic damage or becoming frightened or charmed or to avoid the effects of confusion, you may use your reaction to force the attacker to repeated the same save throw. On a failed save, the spell or effect is reflected back upon the attacker.



Download the PDF Here!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Barbarian: Path of the Thaneborn

The Updated Version of this subclass can now be found here.

Path of the Thaneborn
While most barbarians unleash their inner rage through destruction, others are born leaders, holding positions of great prestige in their tribe. These thanes are not only ruthless warriors, but inspirational war-leaders, whose furious tendencies serve not only to devour their foes, but also to inspire their allies.

In terms of the Heroic Age, the thaneborn represents the northern Celtic warlords and wild amazons who eventually earned the respect of the civilized world through force of arms, despite their barbaric upbringing.


Triumphant Shout
Starting when you select this path at 3rd level, your battle prowess begins to inspire those around you. Whenever you reduce a creature to 0 hit points, you and a number of allies equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1) within 30 feet who can see and hear you gain temporary points equal to your barbarian level + your charisma modifier.


Inspiring Presence
Beginning at 6th level, your presence and headfast resilience allows your allies stand in the face of fear and uncertainly, never surrender, even under the effects of charms and enchantments. Whenever you are raging, you and all allies within 30 feet gain advantage on saving throws to against being frightened or charmed.


Words of the Chieftain
Starting at 10th level, your growing reputation and experience begins to give you an edge in diplomacy and negotiation. You gain proficiency in two of the following skills: history, insight, intimidate, or persuasion.


Thaneborn Charge
Starting 14th Level, your sheer force of will refuses to let go  - driving your allies ever forwards towards victory. Whenever you hit an creature with a melee attack after moving 10 or more feet on your turn, you can use a bonus action to allow a number of allies equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1 ally) within 30 feet who can see and hear you to use their reactions to move up to their speed and make a melee attack against the same creature.

You may not use this path feature again until after you finish a short or extended rest.



Download the PDF Here!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Domains of Myth Updated



All of seven Domains of Myth have been updated to their current version, including their downloadable PDF companions. Most of the domains enjoyed only minor updates with the exclusion of the Love domain, which has been completely overhauled. In my own opinion, the Love domain is the real winner here.

While waiting for new Heroic Age updates, go ahead and check out any of the domains you may have missed.


Creation Domain

The gods and goddesses of creation can be separated into two categories: those deities who created the world or the cosmos, or else they are the gods of the smith, craftsmen, or some sort of trade – including Hephaestus, Ptah, or Cissonius. Clerics of these deities are capable for amazing feats of craftsmanship and  artistry, both magical and otherwise, able to create tools and weapons out of thin air and mend cracks and splinters with a word. Read more.


Destruction Domain
Deities of destruction and chaos tend to be vengeful, malicious even capricious by nature, but the one thing they all have in common is a unhealthy relationship with violence. Many clerics of these deities often relish in the pure act of destruction while some few see destruction as a necessary part of the cycle of ruin and rebirth, or simply as a tool to put an early end to something much worse. Read more.


Love Domain
Nearly every pantheon has a god or a goddess devoted to the concept of love. Examples include Aphrodite, Freya, Hathor, and Sune. Like their divine patrons, clerics of the love domain are often torn between the desire to find, cherish, and protect the a single beloved and the craving for lust, passion, intrigue, and the search for a new object of their attentions. Read more.


Sea Domain
While the tempest domain represents the power of the thundering Stormcaller and Lord of the Sky, the sea domain embodies the might of the crashing, whirling sea. Sailors and merchants often find themselves in the hands of the Sealord - deities such as Posidon, Ă†gir, and Ler - whose gentle embrace can guide them safely to port and whose fits of anger can send them topping overboard into unknown depths. Read more.


Travel Domain
The realm of vagabonds, merchants, messengers, and adventurers, the gods of the travel domain – including Hermes, Fharlanghn, Shinare, and Olladra - are popular among any who frequent the roads or sail the seas. The traveling priests of inhospitable regions also tend to represent the gods of travel. Read more.


Underworld Domain
The underworld, the realm that houses the tortured and senseless spirits of the dead is an image universal to real world mythology and distinct from the Death domain presented in the Dungeon Masters Guide. While there is some amount of overlap, the death domain focuses on the creation of undead servants, while the underworld domains is much subtler in its approach, bringing the sickness, disgust, and plagues that haunts the underworld into the mortal realm. Read more.


Winter Domain
Deities whose portfolios include the winter domain – Hoder, Boreas,  the Raven Queen, and others – govern over all aspects of sickness, cold, ice, and frost, and those creatures and peoples who dwell in cold, icy environments such as the northern reaches and high mountains. Read more.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

May Theme: The Heroic Age



This month's theme, in honor of these ever-increasing temperatures that make me want to walk around shirtless, is the Heroic Age. In the coming weeks, you will find a whole host of resources and articles for swords and sandals gaming with 5e Dungeons and Dragons. For players, we'll have another 3 cleric domains, a barbarian path, new bard college, and at least one (and possible many more) new sorcerer origins. On the DM's side of the screen, we'll focus more on monsters of myth along with a new mysterious island and heroic adventure generator.


May 2 - Barbarian: Path of the Thaneborn

May 4 - Cleric: Revelry Domain

May 6 - Monsters of Myth (Part 1) [Postponed]

May 9 - Bard: College of the Muses

May 11 - Cleric: Strength Domain

May 13 - Monsters of Myth (Part 2)

May 16 - Sorcerer: Zodiac Mage

May 18 - Cleric: Fortune Domain

May 20 - Mysterious Island Generator

May 23 - TBA

May 25 - TBA

May 27 - Heroic Adventure Generator

May 30 - TBA

Friday, April 29, 2016

Cleric: Travel Domain

Travel Domain

The realm of vagabonds, merchants, messengers, and adventurers, the gods of the travel domain – including Hermes, Fharlanghn, Shinare, and Olladra - are popular among any who frequent the roads or sail the seas. The traveling priests of inhospitable regions also tend to represent the gods of travel.


Travel Domain Spells

Cleric Level
Spells
1st
Feather fall, jump,
3rd
Find steed, suggestion
5th
Fly, haste
7th
Dimension door, freedom of movement
9th
Hold monster, passwall


Blessing of Travel
When you select this domain at 1st level, you gain proficiency in one of the following skills of your choice: athletics, perception, or persuasion.

Also, while you are not wearing armor or using a shield, your Armor Class equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Wisdom modifier.

Clever Escape
Also at 1st level, you are granted a knack for wiggling and scrapping your way out of trouble. Whenever, you make a Strength or Dexterity saving throw, you may grant yourself advantage as a reaction.


You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (a minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.


Channel Divinity: Fleet of Foot
Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity class feature as a bonus action to double your normal movement rate for 1 minute. During this period, your high and long jump distance is also doubled.


Channel Divinity: Missed Step
Starting at 6th level, you use your Channel Divinity class feature as a reaction when a creature within 60 feet of you that you can see moves, hopefully causing the creature to stumble and fall. The target must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is knocked prone and its movement ends.


Divine Strike
At 8th level, you gain the ability to infuse your weapon strikes with divine energy. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d8 damage of the same type dealt by the weapon to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.


Perfect Travel
At 17th level, add the teleport spell to your list of domain spell. It is always considered prepared and counts as a cleric spell for you. When you cast teleport, you are always considered very familiar with the destination via the will of the god of travel.



Download the PDF Here!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cleric: Destruction Domain



Destruction Domain

Deities of destruction and chaos tend to be vengeful, malicious even capricious by nature, but the one thing they all have in common is a unhealthy relationship with violence. Many clerics of these deities often relish in the pure act of destruction while some few see destruction as a necessary part of the cycle of ruin and rebirth, or simply as a tool to put an early end to something much worse.


Destruction Domain Spells

Cleric Level
Spells
1st
Hellish rebuke, thunderwave
3rd
Ray of enfeeblement, shatter
5th
Call lightning, fireball
7th
Phantasmal killer, wall of fire
9th
Hold monster, telekinesis


Bonus Proficiencies
Starting at 1st level, you gain proficiency with heavy armor and martial weapons.


Force of Ruin
Also beginning at 1st level, you learn the fire bolt and shocking grasp cantrips. They count as a cleric spell for you.


Channel Divinity: Ray of Ruin
Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity as an action to point your finger at any creature, object, or magical force you can see within 60 feet. The target takes 5 points force damage per cleric level. If this damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, it is disintegrated, as per the disintegrate spell.


This spell automatically disintegrates a medium or smaller non-magical object or magical force. if the target is a large object or larger, this spell disintegrates a 5-foot cubic portion of it. Magic items are unaffected by this spell.


Channel Divinity: Furious Rebuke
Your fury and gift for destruction allows you to retaliate relentlessly against foes foolish enough to challenge your terrible strength. Starting at 6th level, you can use your Channel Divinity whenever you are attacked by a creature you can see within 30 feet or cast at cast a cantrip or spell as a reaction. The attacker who triggered this ability must be the sole target of the spell.


Force of Ruin
On the battlefield, you are a force of destruction all to yourself, hurling spells and steel in unison and leaving a wave of ruin in your wake. Starting at 8th level, whenever you cast a cleric cantrip, you may make a single melee attack as a bonus action.


Maelstrom
Starting at 17th level, add chain lightning, disintegrate, reverse gravity, incendiary cloud, and meteor swarm to your list of domain spells. Like your other domain spells, they are always prepared and count as cleric spells for you.



Download the PDF Here!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cleric: Underworld Domain



Underworld Domain

The underworld, the realm that houses the tortured and senseless spirits of the dead is an image universal to real world mythology and distinct from the Death domain presented in the Dungeon Masters Guide. While there is some amount of overlap, the death domain focuses on the creation of undead servants, while the underworld domains is much subtler in its approach, bringing the sickness, disgust, and plagues that haunts the underworld into the mortal realm.


Deities of the underworld are not universally evil. According to Greek myth, Hades performs fewer immortal acts, such as rape, than his more esteemed brothers, Zeus and Poseidon. Perhaps the underworld god in your campaign is similar. Instead of a being vile Lifetaker bent on the destruction of all life, she is instead  a dark, gloomy sentinel that guards veil between the underworld and the mortal one from vengeful, undead spirits.


Underworld Domain Spells

Cleric Level
Spells
1st
Hex, ray of sickness
3rd
Invisibility, ray of enfeeblement
5th
Bestow curse, spirit guardians
7th
Blight, phantasmal killer
9th
Contagion, insect plague


Bonus Cantrip
At 1st level, you learn the chill touch cantrip if you don’t know it already. It counts as a cleric spell for you.


Drain Strength
At 1st level, when an enemy within 30 feet of you that you can see makes an attack against you or an ally, you can use your reaction action to drain the attacker’s strength and impose disadvantage on the attack roll. An attacker that cannot be poisoned is immune to this class feature.


You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (a minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.


Channel Divinity: Cloud of Pestilence
Beginning at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity class feature as an action on your turn to summon an sickly cloud of pestilence with a 15 foot radius within 30 feet. For 1 minute, all creatures that begin their turn inside the cloud must make a Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. Creatures who make this saving throw are immune to this effect for 24 hours.  


Channel Divinity: Sever Life
Starting at 6th level, you can use your Channel Divinity class feature to sever another creature’s life force. When you roll necrotic damage, you can use your channel divinity to automatically deal maximum damage instead of rolling.


Potent Spellcasting
Starting at 8th level, you add your Wisdom modifier to the damage you deal with any cleric cantrip.


Aura of Fear
Starting at 17th level, you can use your action to become the Visage of Death and surround yourself with an aura of fear and gloom that lasts for 1 minute. Any enemies who begin their turns or move within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes 6d10 psychic damage and is frightened for 1 minute. A creature that succeeds on this saving throw is immune to this effect for the next 24 hours.


You cannot use this ability again until you finish an extended rest.



Download the PDF Here!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Creating Exciting, Dynamic Fantasy Religions

In my last article, Thoughts on Creating Simple, Compelling Pantheons, I discussed several  ways to make deities and pantheons in Dungeons and Dragons games more compelling and distinctive. I have continued thinking and would like to resume that conversation.

In our previous article, I discussed different types pantheons and the practical differences between monotheism and small and large groups of individual deities; duality, which reconciles two or more opposing or conflicting ideas into a single, dynamic whole; and how creating a hierarchy of deities of differing power levels can inherently and effortlessly inject conflict and interest into your game world.

Today I would like to talk less about deities and more about the religions worshiping them. For the purposes of this post, I am writing with polytheism in mind, though many of these concepts may also be applied to monotheism and dualism as well.


Community Worship & Appeasement

Whereas pantheons organize a collection a gods and goddesses in relation to each other, religion organizes a them in terms of the mortals by whom they are worshiped and revered. We can construct fantasy religions in many ways. Throughout this article we will discuss several of them.

In most table top roleplaying games, each temple seems to worship a single god or goddess. In terms of real-world polytheistic religions, the exclusive worship of Zeus to the exclusion of Hera or Apollo would be utterly preposterous. In ancient Greek religion, Zeus, Hera, Apollo and dozens of other gods worked together to make up a single, united whole and were worshipped as such. While there the ancient Greek performed specific festivals and rites and erected temples in the honor of individuals deities, worshipers worked together to invite the gods’ gifts and prosperity into their homes and to ward away misfortune and divine retribution (see just any Greek tragedy for details).

Most ancient religions were community-oriented and operated under the assumption of appeasement. It was necessary to burn offerings and make sacrifices to Thor in order to ensure a community’s wellbeing and protection against outside forces. But pleasing Thor alone would not guarantee a productive harvest or keep violent storms at bay; the community must instead pay each member of the pantheon his or her dues. Without support from multiple divine protectors and the sacrifices made to calm the wrath of more destructive deities, the community would succumb to ruin and defeat.

This is a perfectly acceptable way to organize a religion for a table top roleplaying game. It gives PCs the opportunity to create stronger ties to their home base and sets up a struggle between mortal vs. divine forces or mortals vs. nature, which can have rather interesting consequences on gameplay.

This model works particularly well when regions don’t worship each deity separately, but instead revere the whole host as a single unit.

Adventures could include the PCs being sent to retrieve an important sacrifice (the Blue Bull of Minorus) in order to regain the Stormcaller’s favor or hunting down hubristic mortals who seek to upset the natural order of the universe, thereby diverting a deity’s displeasure.


Choosing Sides in the Unending Cosmic Battle
Most religions in official D&D settings operate by this model. Instead of community worship and making sacrifices in the hopes of appeasing an entire pantheon, communities and individuals align themselves with a patron god or goddess, usually for the purpose of an overarching cosmic conflict.

The nature of this conflict may vary. One group of gods versus another, the gods verse an outside force (demons, the great old ones, etc.), and petty gods scavenging for power and worship to increase their own individual power on a cosmic scale are but a few of the possibilities.

Depending on the extent to which deities can exert their own will to alter the physical world, worshippers may find themselves as little more than pawns on a chessboard, carrying out their patron god’s or goddess’s will in the mortal world. In a setting where the gods walk among men, worshippers may find themselves the subjects of a god-king or other divine ruler or act as soldiers in an army led by the Warbringer himself. On the other hand, in a world where the divine realm is farther removed from the domains of mortals, worshippers may be the only instruments able to wield divine forces in the physical world and must rely on their own wits and archaic religious texts to advance their deity’s position.


Marked by the Gods
In a world where mortals are far-removed from the divine, deities choose their own champions on Earth, marking them with great power and responsibility. These champions are, of course, clerics in D&D terms (or paladins, rangers, and any other divine casters, depending on edition, setting, and class interpretation).

Under this model, only their chosen champions have any real connection to the gods. While religious institutions may exist, they are out of sync with the desires of their deity. Clerics are often feared, seen as radicals, heretics, or liars rather than the prophets and divine champions they really are. In this world, religions are, at best, uninformed institutions used to support spiritual and political stability throughout civilization. More often, they tend to embody fundamentalist bigots, undermining the cleric’s divine authority and unjustly oppressing or taking advantage of the communities they profess to serve.


One World, Multiple Religions
In G.R.R. Martin’s popular series, a Song of Ice and Fire, there isn’t a single, overarching religion. No. There are dozens of cults of varying sizes spread throughout the world. While the Faith of the Seven is certainly the most widespread throughout the Seven Kingdoms, the old gods of the north; the Drowned God revered by the Ironborn; R’hllor, the Lord of Light; the little known Lady of Waves and the Lord of the Skies; and several others make their presence known and felt.

Eberron also does this with its Silver Flame, Sovereign Host, Dark Six, Blood of Vol, Cults of the Dragon Below, Path of Light, Path of Inspiration, Undying Court, and Keepers of the Past. They vary from being monotheistic to polytheistic or completely agnostic, but they all have two things in common: their clerics all cast spells and their legitimacy is, at best, ambiguous.

Containing multiple, unique religions can really bring a campaign world to life.

Finally, several different, completing faiths can worship  the same deity or pantheon. Take real world Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, for example, three competing religions built on the worship of the same, all-powerful father figure. Each has its own interpretations, but all follow interlinking religious texts and overlapping beliefs. Roman Catholicism vs. Eastern Orthodoxy and the Shia and the Sunni give us another real-world perspective. Just imagine a fantasy world with magically empowered terrorists of Set, working to dismantle the Egyptian faith from within or ridding the world of blasphemous heretics. It might be a terrible place to live in, but it’s certainly a great place in which to role dice.


The Question of Alignment
Alignment in D&D has always been something of a prickly point to many. On the one hand, it helps describe how an individual, community, monster, or deity behaves. On the other hand, it breaks down when taken to any sort of extreme or when you apply real-life psychology to it.

Even with those limitations, I like and use alignment in my games. I’ve never overheard that ever popular, internet-sensation, the conversation, “do we kill the orc babies?”, in real life. It just doesn’t come up, at least not at any table or group I’ve played with. For me, alignment is a useful shorthand. A LE god of trickery is quite different than a NE one. Using alignment, I don’t have to spend a lot of explaining those differences to myself or my players (though, in limited doses, that can be fun, too).

Furthermore, many proclaim that alignment it’s boring. On the contrary, it’s use livens up your campaign in several ways. The first is when the general religious body and the god(s) it worships are of conflicting alignments. Imagine a LE god of war oppressing and enslaving the NG community who worships him. They don’t worship this Warbringer out of love or devotion, but out of fear and obligation. The opposite can work just as well: an LE tyrant, hiding behind the face of a NG god of health and medicine.

The second trick comes up when priests of varying alignments and allegiances, competing against one another for political and religious power, fill a polytheistic hierarchy. This set-up remembers the real world most closely, with vying sects and assemblies squabbling under the banner of a single religion.

Lastly, create deities with the polar opposite alignments that one would normally expect. Imagine a LE god with the love domain, the patron god of S&M, or the LG god of death, using undead slave labor to raise her follower’s standard of living. Sounds like the perfect basis for one of those unnamed city states lying forgotten in the bottom corner of your campaign map.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Cleric: Winter Domain



Winter Domain

Deities whose portfolios include the winter domain – Hoder, Boreas,  the Raven Queen, and others – govern over all aspects of sickness, cold, ice, and frost, and those creatures and peoples who dwell in cold, icy environments such as the northern reaches and high mountains.

Winter Domain Spells

Cleric Level
Spells
1st
Ice knife*, ray of sickness
3rd
Gust of wind, Scnilloc’s snowball swarm*
5th
Ice shape**, sleet storm
7th
Blight, ice storm
9th
Cone of cold,  contagion
* From  Elemental Evil Player’s Companion.
** See New Spells below for more information.


Bonus Cantrip
At 1st level, you learn the ray of frost cantrip if you don’t already know it. It counts as a cleric spell for you.


Winter’s Wrath
Also at 1st level, you can censure attackers with gusts of freezing air. When a creature within 30 feet of you that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to cause the creature to make a Constitution saving throw. The creature takes of 2d8 cold damage on a failed saving throw, or half as much damage on a successful one.


You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.


Channel Divinity: Shards of Winter
Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity as an action to summon a gust of freezing air in a 15 foot radius circle within 30 feet. The area becomes difficult terrain for 1 minute as shards and spears of razer-sharp ice appear. All creatures in the area must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes damage equal to the your level + Wisdom modifier.


Freezing Cold
Beginning at 6th level, whenever you deal cold damage to a target, the target cannot take reactions until the end of your next turn.


Potent Spellcasting
Starting at 8th level, you add your Wisdom modifier to the damage you deal with any cleric cantrip.


Herald of Winter
At 17th level, as an action, you can transform into the form of the Winter’s Herald for 1 minute. When in this form, you create an aura of ice and cold within 30 feet of you. The ground turns to ice and the air becomes a thick, whirling blizzard. The area within your aura is considered difficult terrain and heavily obscured for all creatures other than you. So long as your aura remains, you have immunity to cold and necrotic damage, and you may cast ray of frost as a bonus action once during each of your turns.


You cannot use this ability again until you finish an extended rest.


New Spells
The winter domain contains the following new spell.

Ice Shape
3rd level transmutation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous

You cause a section of ice, no more than 10 feet in any dimension, to form itself into any shape you desire. For example, you could shape a piece of ice into a weapon, an ice sculpture, or a small passage through a wall, as long as the wall is less than 10 feet thick. Weapons created in this way count as magical for the purposes of bypassing resistances and immunities.



Download the PDF Here!