Sunday, 1 December 2013

I Changed the Name of the Blog.

So yeah, the header said DNGNS&DRGNS and I felt it was a bit misleading, I don't really write about the actually D&D game (but rather D&D the type of game, as in the brand is as much a game as a type of game) So I went through some of my old ideas for titles. "I Played D&D Before It Was Cool" stuck out at me. Why didn't I use that in the first place? And I wonder how many will overlook the irony of the title.

Its also worth noting that I haven't changed the urls to the blog, I strongly fear it would mess up a bunch of links and stuff, so I'll avoid that.

- Happy Gaming.

D20 Icons - Ettercap

Each week I'll be taking a crack at converting some of the most iconic d20 monsters that, for one reason or another didn't appear in the awesome 13th Age Core rulebook. This week - the Ettercap.

Level 3 (Medium Humanoid Arachnid)
Init: +7
HP: 40 AC: 20 PD: 18  MD: 16

Entangling Claws : +8
 vs. AC (2 attacks) - 6 damage, Natural 11+ Hit: Target is stuck (save ends)

Venomous Strike : If an Ettercap attacks a target that is stuck it has +2 to attack and also change Entangling Claws effect to "deal 7 ongoing poison damage".

Spider Senses : Roll twice when checking for any surprise or initiative checks.

: If you like this monster check out the other Iconic classic D&D monsters I've converted here :

Monday, 18 November 2013

GM Kit : Random Combat Encounter Types

This is part of my steadily expanding GM Kit series of blog posts, mostly concerning (but not limited to) 13th Age. I play either online via Roll20 or during my weekly face to face game and either way i'll be using a laptop. The GM Kit series is designed to get all my tables and useful info all in one place. Hopefully you can get some use out of it too.

This is a repost from Rampant Games After you're done here go check it out.

Roll 2d8 or Choose:

2 - Straightforward
3 - Ambush
4 - Exposition
5 - Tactical
6 - Avoidable
7 - Mixed
8 - Deceptive
9 - Programmed
10 - Hostile
11 - Booby Trapped
12 - Exceptional Enemies
13 - Waves of Enemies
14 - Weakened Enemies
15 - Non-Lethal Attacks
16 - Rule Changers

Straightforward combat encounters - Nothing much to write about here. But often these involved a new monster type or a spellcaster or "boss-level" enemy which the players won't be familiar with. Or the tactics the enemies used might be a little unusual to mix things up.

Ambush attacks - monsters attacking from hiding to get an initial advantage (but quickly devolves into being a straightforward combat). Certain monsters were simply made for this kind of attack - like trappers and lurkers above.

Exposition Encounters - These might be encounters that resemble types 1 or 2, but actually provide clues as to the bigger picture. For example, orcs that are visibly nervous about guarding the entrance to the graveyard, and will not flee there under any circumstances.

Tactical Challenges - these battles involve a significant tactical wrinkle - like fighting on a bridge over a lake of fire, or something as simple as the enemy taking advantage of cover or the high ground. Anti-magic fields are also popular here. Tucker's Kobolds drove players insane with these kinds of battles.

Avoidable combats - battles which smart players can avoid completely by using their brains instead of their swords. There were often varieties of monsters coming and going in those old dungeons, which necessitated some loose agreements between them. The players could often exploit this situation. Using the correct password, or simply bribing the bored ogres might be enough.

Mixed battles - With creatures of complimentary abilities, the classic example is to pair a powerful but easily killed magical enemy with a very tough "tank" to protect it.

Deceptive Battles - Like the ambush encounter, but there's something going on that makes the entire combat confusing and unclear. A canonical example is an illusion that disguises the true nature of the enemies, or adds additional illusionary attackers to the mix. Why is that cow breathing fire, again? Or a field of darkness within which the enemy can see, but the party cannot. Or maybe the party doesn't realize that the beautiful slumbering maiden they've just "rescued" is actually a vampire who is currently attacking with her charm power prior to unleashing her more direct and obvious attacks.

Programmed encounters - these are combat encounters that are directed or triggered by some sort of trap or puzzle. "Lady or the Tiger" situations or room-sized chessboard puzzles with golems as the enemy pieces might be examples of this kind of combat encounter.

Hostile Battlefields - This is a lot like Tactical Challenge battles (4), but there's an active environmental threat that makes time of the essence, or requires an active hand to avoid the threat as well as battle the enemies. An example might be a room with the walls closing in, or filling with water, or a battle taking place around an artifact that is hurling fireballs at random locations.

Booby Trap Battles - These encounters are semi-passive, happening only if the party digs around looking for treasure. Oozes, slimes, rot grubs, mimics, giant centipedes, and poisonous snakes worked well here.

Exceptional Enemies - These encounters involved an enemy more powerful than the players expect, due to nature, spells, or equipment. The Hobgoblin chieftain might fight as a bugbear, the zombies might be outfitted with chain mail and pole arms, the ogre might be wearing a ring of protection and drink a potion of haste before the battle, or the goblin might actually be a vampire. Third edition D&D really took this to the extreme, with plenty of options for advancing or otherwise beefing up "standard" enemies.

Waves of Opponents - Reinforcements are arriving. To avoid facing increasing odds, the party might have to expend a few more resources to eliminate the earlier waves quickly to avoid fighting an overwhelming force.

Weakened Enemies - The party may face a creature typically more powerful than they'd usually be able to take on, but has some advantage which - if they exploit - can grant them victory. A Hydra might be bound on a chain to an area, the ogre camp may be sleeping off a night of drunken revelry, or the dragon may be injured from another battle.

Non-Lethal Attacks - The enemy launches a quick raid set the party back (and gain treasure) rather than to kill them. It may be a quick robbery to deprive the party of equipment (or the functional equivalent via a Disenchanter or Rust Monster), or an attempt to lure / force the party into a trap, or simply to get them to waste spells, potions, and charges on magical items for an all-out battle that doesn't happen until later. Another example is an entirely illusionary encounter, which again may cost the party resources.

The Rule Changers - The wildly bizarre, constrained encounter that the Game Master might have a tough time rationalizing, but really turn combat on the ear. The most common of these would be combats where the party is stripped of all their gear, and must fight unarmed or with improvised weaponry. More extreme rules might be a conflict that must follow the rules of Rugby or something like that. While weird, they can be enormously amusing.

I omitted the following from the table as whilst this combat encounter type can be fun - it can often lead to massive derailing decision made by players. Its your call if you like that or not.

The No-Win Scenarios - Like #5, but this is a battle which - if pursued to the ultimate conclusion - is for all practical purposes unwinnable. The only way to win is - not to play. Or rather, to find the alternative means of defeating the enemy. Players (and Captain James T. Kirk) hate these, but usually only because they don't realize its danger until too late. Presented carefully, I believe it is still a valid and enjoyable encounter.

: If you need something to stock your combat encounters check out the Iconic classic D&D monsters I've converted here :

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

D20 Icons - Death Knight

Each week I'll be taking a crack at converting some of the most iconic d20 monsters that, for one reason or another didn't appear in the awesome 13th Age Core rulebook. This week - A Death Knight.

Death Knight
Level 5 (Medium Double Strength Undead)
Init: +10
HP: 144 AC: 21 PD: 19  MD: 15

Soul Hungry Broadsword : +10 vs. AC (2 attacks) - 30 damage, Natural Even Hit: The attack deals an additional 18 damage Miss: The target receives the Enmity of the Death Knight.

Unholy Fire : +10 vs. PD (1d6 nearby creatures) - 18 damage and 11 ongoing damage Miss: 11 ongoing damage.

Enmity of the Death Knight : If a creature has the Enmity of the Death knight and they make an attack that doesn't include the him or they Disengage from him, the Death Knight can make a free Should Hungry Broadsword attack against them.

Unholy Presence : When a creature is engaged with the Knight it has a -2 to disengage checks and attack rolls.

: If you like this monster check out the other Iconic classic D&D monsters I've converted here :

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Why you should just draw maps for the heck of it.

When you run a low prep or improv game you can never have enough maps. Thats not technically true, there are those who literally fly by the seat of their imaginary pants but me - I like a bit of paper to spark and idea from mid flow. Im also a big fan of creating a resource I can use again and again in different ways. 

I've been doodling maps in a little gridded pocket book during lunch breaks, I got a couple of them from the work stationary cupboard - but i'll pick up a Moleskine when I fill them up. I don't spend long on each drawing either, just quick - and I'm not really sweating the finer points of the maps, I just start doodling.

I've been doing it for a week or so - i've now got a enough random maps, should I ever need one on the fly, i'm covered.

Check this afternoons 10 minute doodle :

Saturday, 9 November 2013

13th Age NPC Kit - Available for Download

So finally i've put the last little bit of work in and pulled together the NPC Kit, you can download it here, and subscribe to the blog as no doubt i'll putting out updates as feedback comes in.

I've dropped the image background layouts - going with a simple text only layout, i've chosen a mobile/tablet optimised font and thin central text column so hopefully the pdf will be nice to read and use on mobile devices, as well as desktop/laptops.

I've still got to add bookmarks and sort the table of contents out - and do a revision based on any feedback I get but its practically done, i've been using it at my table for the last 2 months without any complaints!

: If you like this you should probably also check out my Trap Kit and the complete list of Iconic D20 Monsters both for 13th Age :

-  Happy gaming.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

GM Kit : NPC Racial Powers

This is part of my steadily expanding GM Kit series of blog posts, mostly concerning (but not limited to) 13th Age. I play either online via Roll20 or during my weekly face to face game and either way i'll be using a laptop. The GM Kit series is designed to get all my tables and useful info all in one place. Hopefully you can get some use out of it too.

Here are the Player race abilities, converted to be used for NPC creation.

NB: AB represents the Attack Bonus as given on the Baseline Stats table at the NPC's corresponding level (p254. Core rulebook)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

GM Kit : NPC Descriptions

This is part of my steadily expanding GM Kit series of blog posts, mostly concerning (but not limited to) 13th Age. I play either online via Roll20 or during my weekly face to face game and either way i'll be using a laptop. The GM Kit series is designed to get all my tables and useful info all in one place. Hopefully you can get some use out of it too.

Here are some NPC descriptions.

Its worth noting that for these lists I took heavy inspiration from the Secluisium of Orphone by D.Vincent Baker. I suggest you buy a copy, worth every penny.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

13A Homebrew: Decreasing DC's

So as some of the readers of this blog may know, i'm currently running an Old-School esq Megadungeon Crawl via Roll20 and Hangouts. This has led me to re-read all my OSR rulebooks (OD&D, AD&D and other non TSR products) for inspiration and to try and get the 'mood' right. So far so good, but i'm sure my players are the best people to ask.

(Don't worry if you're reading. No spoilers)

One thing that strikes a clear difference is the lack of a skill list in early version of D&D, there are skills - just not catalogued into neat list that 3e/4e is notable for. For example Elves will find secret doors (effectively the Perception/Search skill) on a 1 or 2 out of 6 on a d6, everyone else its just a 1.

I'd normally houserule this so every turn they spend looking, the odds of success increase - ensuring that a character will find a secret door automatically if the spend 6 turns (1 hour) looking for it. Or, for example, 4 in 6 chance if they spend 4 turns looking (40 minutes) Because if the characters can find a secret door after looking at the same place for an hour - whats the point?

So i've been thinking on how I can transfer this houserule across to my Megadungeon (and probably other) games i'm running. Decreasing DC's. Every turn a player spends performing an action the set DC decreases by 2 (assuming time can be used to increase the chances of success) meaning a Ridiculously hard task to perform in 10 minutes/1 turn at the Adventurer tier (DC 25) is much more manageable if you spend 60 minutes/6 turns (DC 13)

It even scales with tiers, Epic being DC 25, 30 and 35.

I know this kind of rules against failing forward (in a way) but then failing forward is a very 'new-school' story technique* and sometimes doesn't feel right in a certain type of game - after all OD&D teaches us that outright failure can and should happen, and you shouldn't like it either.

Also before i forget, don't suck the narrative out of it. Im not going to use this as a rule that doesn't require explaining. I guess you should come up with someway to let the players know how their time and effort is impacting the task at hand.

I'm going test this over the next couple of weeks - i'm sure my players wont even notice, but at least if I make them aware of the rules - it may impact the way they explore the dungeon. Hopefully that will be fun.

As always glad to hear your comments

- Happy gaming

*I know its not really a new-school technique, i'm sure there are tonnes of games that have been around for ages that either use failing forward or story mechanics to propel the game forward - i'm really using new-school label to act as a distinction between the gygaxian and the more modern approach to handling failure. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

D20 Icons - Slaad

Each week I'll be taking a crack at converting some of the most iconic d20 monsters that, for one reason or another didn't appear in the awesome 13th Age Core rulebook. This week - Slaad.

Level 7 (Large Elemental Humanoid)
Init: +10
HP: 216 AC: 23 PD: 21  MD: 17

Vicious Claws : +12 vs. AC (2 attacks) - 23 damage

Gaping Maw : +12 vs. AC - 56 damage

Engulfed by chaos : When a Slaad makes a successful attack against a creature roll a d6, if the players can guess the number they are un-affected - if they cannot, they must roll on the Chaotic Effects table below.

Chaotic Effects :

  1. Ongoing 10 psychic damage
  2. Dazed (save ends)
  3. Gain resistance to (choose one) Fire/Thunder/Poison
  4. Confused (save ends)
  5. The creature takes 15 damage and pops free
  6. Hampered and gains +2 to its next attack roll
  7. The creature may spend a recovery
  8. The creature loses one recovery

: If you like this monster check out the other Iconic classic D&D monsters I've converted here :

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Gamesmastering Challenge - Prep

So, a month or so ago I started the 30 Day d&d challenge - I gave it a good crack, but in the end posting everyday just wasn't practical - unless you're interested in reading text that has the same literary content as some written by an author smashing their head against the keyboard (i'm guessing you don't?) So I cam across this site - interesting, I thought, but i'll be damned if i'm posting everyday. I'll do it in nice easy chucks.


What advice would you give a first-time GM?

You'll suck. But thats ok. Seriously though the chances are you'll make a bunch of mistakes, so I recommend just grin and bear it. Don't worry about it and try not to let in fluster you, remember everyone is here to have fun and play a game - thats all. If everyone knows its your first time behind the screen and you amongst good company, nobody will mind if you forget stuff or make mistakes.

What are your favourite GMing tools or accessories?

The AD&D Rules Cyclopedia. Everything you need to run a game in a book, and I dont even play AD&D. I also use several home-brew accessories i've made for running 13A games, my NPC kit and Trap Kit.

How do you find players?

I run a weekly group with some old friends, so we don't really recruit for that. But there is a healthy Tabletop Scene in my town, so if were to need more players at the table I'd go there first - The other games I run are online, so finding new players there is usually through G+ or readers of this blog.

Do you use pre-published adventures or write your own?

I mostly write my own, but i'll always be incorporating elements of written adventures, if I see something good, bastardising them for my own needs.

Stealing like an artist - what inspiration have you drawn from other games, books, movies etc?

Characters, places, items story threads and hooks - i've stolen them all. Seriously steal EVERYTHING you can. If you watch/read/see something and you think 'That's cool' steal it. There's a reason your reaction was to think it was cool, its because it is cool. So share the love and let your players experience how cool it is too.

Worldbuilding - whats your process?

I start off with a small detailed area and let the players fill in the blanks around it. But make sure to build a complete world with very broad strokes - so when asked 'whats on the other side of the world?' you can answer. But i'll never start filling every Hex with stuff until it becomes relevant (why waste prep time on stuff that might never see the light of day?)

How do you prep for the start of a campaign?

Read the Dungeonworld corebook, specifically the section about creating Adventure Fronts and Campaign fronts, I cannot recommend this enough. Basically I'll think about the tone of the campaign, create adversaries (broad ones such as guilds and cults, not individuals really) and set their goals and motivations for the life of the campaign. Determining their final goals will steer their actions and reactions throughout. Then its a case of creating somewhere small for the players to start and building around them as they explore.

How do you prep for each session?

I don't really. Thats a bit of a lie, but I definitely run on the light side for session prep. Most of the content is created on the fly from stuff in my GM Kit. Then i'll let the players Relationship Dice rolls guide the actions of NPC's and story elements.

Player "homework" - what do you ask of your players before and between session?

Nothing. Its not homework its a game. If they want to create content between sessions they can, but i'll never ask a player to dod something, I don't want them to feel obligated. It would be nice if they levelled up when needed but even then I won't bust their balls if they don't. 

What are your tips for running a low/no prep game?

I think i've kind of covered my process in the questions above (and my games absolutely fall into the low prep category) but here's a couple of my thoughts on low prep -

  • Theres no such thing as no/low prep really. Its just about what you prep and when/how many times you do it. 
  • Spend some time creating tables of names, appearances, mannerisms, motivations and interesting things an NPC/Object/Location might have.
  • If you can get an Internet signal at your game you can use random name generators for items and places in all sorts of different literary styles, if not make some tables in advance.
  • Learn how to make NPC/Monster stats on the fly - create a useful list of stats, powers and abilities if necessary.
  • If your running 13th age, roll your relationship dice at the end to drive next weeks session, if you don't run 13th Age, consider integrating the relationship dice mechanic to your game.
  • Get comfortable making stuff up, confidence is key, if the players see you're not too sure - then they wont be too sure either. The more you fly by the seat of your pants the greater your confidence will be.
Hope some of this is useful or insightful. I'll be back with the next couple of sections in the coming weeks.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

D20 Icons - Yuan-Ti

Each week I'll be taking a crack at converting some of the most iconic d20 monsters that, for one reason or another didn't appear in the awesome 13th Age Core rulebook. This week - Yuan-Ti

Level 5 (Magical Beast)
Init: +8
HP: 54 AC: 21 PD: 19  MD: 15

Tainted Scimitar: +13 vs AC - 18 damage, Natural even hit or miss: Ongoing 10 poison damage.

Wicked Hijazi : +13 vs. AC -  (one nearby creature) 18 damage, Natural even hit or miss: Ongoing 10 poison damage.

Cold Blooded Cunning: The first time the Yuan-Ti attacks an enemy during a battle, its crit range for that attack expands by 2 (to a maximum of 18+).

Nastier Special
Block Lotus Poison: If the Yuan-Ti makes a Melee or Range attack and rolls 16+ to hit, the creature is poisoned with the essence of the Black Lotus, they must begin making last gasp saves as their heart begins to stop!

: If you like this monster check out the other Iconic classic D&D monsters I've converted here :

Sunday, 20 October 2013

We came for the loot, We stayed because we died..

I've started running a VTT via Roll20 - a classic pick up and play mega-dungeon experience run with the 13th age ruleset.

"The purpose for this is I know regular gaming can be tough, so I want to provide an opportunity for people to get involved if and when they can. The megadungeon is great setting for this - theres ongoing continuity for those who need it and episodic stand alone play for those who cant make that often. Each week is a new delve, going in at the start of the evening and trying to make it out at the end. You can change your character each week or, should you choose, stick with the same one forever."

So if you're interested in rolling up a character, delving a dungeon and hopefully making it out alive let me know. There's already some interest building over at Roll20 so it would be nice to extend the invitation to anyone (and i know there are at least a couple!) who reads the blog.

Visit the Roll20 thread here - or get me on G+ here

Happy gaming

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Simple Mounted Combat for 13th Age.

A couple of my players bought horses, great I thought - they can travel loads faster. One of the buggers bought a warhorse, damn it I thought, now we have to make some rules for it in combat:

  • A horse doubles your speed when in combat, we're not worried about realism this is an abstraction - horses make you faster.
  • Give it baselines stats of appropriate level, large or regular - you can decide how substantial the horse is.
  • Armour barding for a horse is the same as a shield for a humanoid. An abstraction but simple. +1 AC. By extension its also possible to get magical barding surely?
  • Consider giving a warhorse a bonus to AC and Damage (+2 AC and 25% additional damage)
  • If you riding a warhorse roll a d6 at the beginning of your turn, if its below the escalation die then it makes an attack against an engaged enemy.
  • If you or the horse is staggered then you need to make a check to control the horse, this should be hard difficulty if on a regular horse, average difficulty with a warhorse. Failure results in the horse rearing and trying to bolt etc, perhaps even a Dex/Str check may be required to hang on - falling off could hurt.
  • Stunts such as jumps and other tricky manoeuvres may required a Dex/Str background check to pull off successfully. Remember failing forward and offering tough choices on failure.
  • You still have to disengage with a horse, the GM makes the call whether AOO are aimed at the horse or the rider.
  • Missed attacks - Roll a natural 1-5? ignore any powers triggered by the attack and roll it again against the horse.

We tried to make this rules as simple and inclusive as possible. There's a bunch of stuff you could add in that just adds an additional layer of complexity that we don't need - combat is fun when its quick, we stopped playing 4e for a reason remember? Likewise I encourage rulings and players feedback, we've just started using these so it might change - let me know if you implement them and what you're players think about it.

Happy Gaming

Thursday, 17 October 2013

My Maps - Ysarn

A while back I posted a completed 4e (Mike Schley) Style Map Template, so far I've had no use to create anymore maps - my players have been happily exploring a large continent, but time has come to head across the seas in search of adventure. I present to you, Ysarn. (Hint: Right Click > Open in new tab)

I've not put any details on there yet, bar a few interesting things I wanted 'hardcoded' into the geography (such as the river and a few oasis dotted about) as usual i'll take my fluid 'creation upon necessity' approach whereby elements are added as needed for player and story purposes. If you want some good guidelines i'll write a post about it at some stage (if there's interest)

Feel free to print copy/mangle as you see fit.

Have fun - Dave

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

D20 Icons - Kuo Toa

Each week I'll be taking a crack at converting some of the most iconic d20 monsters that, for one reason or another didn't appear in the awesome 13th Age Core rulebook. This week the Lovecraftian Kuo Toa.

Kuo Toa
Level 6 (Magical Beast)
Init: +13
HP: 80 AC: 21 PD: 19  MD: 15

Hooked Trident : +11 vs AC (one nearby creature) - 21 damage, Natural even hit: if the target creature is engaged with Kuo-toa it pops free.

Barbed Net : +11 vs. PD (1d2 nearby enemies) - The target is stuck save ends; every time the target fails a save they take 19 damage

Cunning Manoeuvre : When a creature moves to engage the Kuo-Toa it can pop free from one creature that it is already engaged with.

Aquatic : Whilst in or under water the Kuo-toa gains +2 to all defences

Nastier Special
Accursed: The Kuo-Toa wield dreadful weapons enchanted by long forgotten and evil gods, any character staggered by a Kuo-Toa attack is afflicted by The Curse of Dagon.

The Curse of Dagon: At the end of every day until the curse is lifted, a character must make a single Last Gasp save, after 4 accumulative failures overnight they will complete their transformation into a Kuo-Toa.

: If you like this monster check out the other Iconic classic D&D monsters I've converted here :

Monday, 14 October 2013

A Picture Paints a 1,000 Words..

Need some inspiration? Each week i'll grab a random image and use it to kick start a plot thread, I actively encourage you to come up with something based on the image and post it in the comments. NPC, Locales, Items and Artefacts. I'll be doing them all.

Donaar Al'Hammam

Donaar Al'Hammam the wandering merchant has lived and made a living trading magical goods in the coastal rimwards region of Ysarn for over 80 years. Old and wizened from Ysarns blistering heat Donaar is hunched with deep wrinkles etched into his long bearded face.

He is renown for his humour, youthful spirit and quick wits, also the uncanny ability to seek out items of curiosity and wonder. He is self serving foremost, but not at the cost of others - coin is his greatest motivator but given dire enough circumstance he will do whatever is needed for those he calls friend.

Kind but stern, having travelled among the wild men of Calpar and Iprini he has grown tough and resilient to danger. His earliest achievement was uncovering burial mound of the first kings of Ysarn, and with these treasure he made his first fortune. Despite his appearance and few remaining teeth Donaar eternal youthfulness has a winning way with the ladies.

Secret : He is a elder lord of the Heeg Ad'Wallaze

Saturday, 12 October 2013

GM Kit: Magic Items

This is part of my steadily expanding GM Kit series of blog posts, mostly concerning (but not limited to) 13th Age. I play either online via Roll20 or during my weekly face to face game and either way i'll be using a laptop. The GM Kit series is designed to get all my tables and useful info all in one place. Hopefully you can get some use out of it too.

Here are some random magic items, either artefacts with personalities or functional magical tools all sought after by adventurers, wanderers and curious folk.

Minor Items - Roll D100

Roll D100
Minor Magic Items
Runic Bandages : Use of these bandages allows a player to max out one recovery roll whilst resting.
Belt of Great Strength : Whilst worn a PC gains +1 on all strength related rolls.
Bracers of Protection : Whilst worn they grant +1 AC.
Brooch of Disruption : This item will absorb upto 20 damage per day.
Hearthspark : This glass bead will transfor into a campfire when a command word is spoken, burning for 8 hours. When done or commanded to, it transform back into a glass bead.
Ironweave Cloak : Whilst worn this grants +1 PD
Dust of Semblance : If sprinkled on a creature, the target is disguised as if they've had Disguise Self cast upon them.
Primordial Amber : If crushed Primordial Amber will summon an elemental to serve you for roughly 5 minutes. The colour of the amber indicates the type of elemental.
Dragonbreath Tonic : After consumption a creature may breath fire on 1d4 creatures This last 1 hour or upto 3 times (only once per battle)
Veiling Tonic : After consumption a creature gains +5 to stealth checks for 1 hour.
Aquatic Tonic : After consumption a creature gains +5 to swimming checks for 1 hour.
Tonic of Clarity : After consumption a creature gains +5 to perception checks for 1 hour.
Wizards Palm : This mummified hand on a chain allows the wearer to cast the Mage Hand cantrip upto once per round.
Fearless Tabard : Whilst worn a PC ignores any creature fear aura if they are of the same level or lower.
Pearl of Augury : After a battle this item can be crushed enableing the user to recharge one daily spell.
Lubricious unguent : After application a creature cannot be grabbed for the next 8 hours
Argent Luster : After application to a weapon it acts as if made of silver for the purposes of attacks, for example against creatures such as werewolves. This last 1 hour.
Willow's Acorn : This acorn will transform into a mighty oak upon saying the command word, and is a fully living plant.            

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

D20 Icons - The Mimic

Each week I'll be taking a crack at converting some of the most iconic d20 monsters that, for one reason or another didn't appear in the awesome 13th Age Core rulebook. This week - Mimics

Level 4 (Magical Beast)
Init: +7
HP: 54 AC: 18  PD: 16  MD: 14

Pseudopod : +12 vs AC (one nearby creature) - 10 damage, Natural even hit: the target creature is grabbed.

Chewing Maw : +12 vs. AC - 16 damage, the Mimic can perform this as a quick action against creatures it has grabbed.

Sticky : If struck by a melee attack and the natural attack roll is 1-5 the weapon becomes stuck to the mimic.

Polymorph : As a quick action a Mimic can change its form to resemble any inanimate stone or wooded medium sized object. Whilst in this form the Mimic has resistance to all damage and cannot move. In order to discern that the Mimic is in fact alive a character must succeed at a Hard 'spot/perception' background check. 

: If you like this monster check out the other Iconic classic D&D monsters I've converted here :

Sunday, 6 October 2013

A Picture Paints 1,000 words..

Need some inspiration? Each week i'll grab a random image and use it to kick start a plot thread, I actively encourage you to come up with something based on the image and post it in the comments. NPC, Locales, Items and Artefacts. I'll be doing them all.

Sophronia Vear. 

A beautiful and highly regarded socialite (by some, others have their misgivings), she belongs to House Vear - a long and especially noble family of notably strong and capable women - she's always at the most exclusive parties and always with a string of suiters fawning over her. Not entirely vacuous and vain as her detractors would have you believe, she publicly patronises numerous good causes amongst the poor and low-born. She's actually a Liche, and has been for the last 1,000 or so years. Every so often she will marry, secretly obtain an infant girl to act as daughter - go into seclusion for a decade or so, eventually re-emerging as her 'daughter'.

13A Random Tables: Magical Fountains

I was in the middle of a game and I needed a magical effect from drinking the water in a fountain, couldn't find a great one* so i've decided to make one (some of the effects aren't all positive)

Roll a D20

  1. Drinker gains Darkvision for the next hour.
  2. Drinker loses a Recovery.
  3. Drinker begins to petrify, roll Last Gasp Saves. If the water is drunk again this removes the petrification.
  4. Drinker gains a Recovery.
  5. Drinker receives -2 to their next d20 roll.
  6. Drinker gains +2 to their next d20 roll.
  7. The drinkers hands emit a holy radiance, they gain 2 uses of the 'Lay on Hands' spell.
  8. The next time the drinker spends a recovery they can max one dice rolled.
  9. The next time the drinker spends a recovery they lose HP equal to the highest dice rolled.
  10. The drinker makes no sound when attempting to move silently for the next hour.
  11. Drinker loses any special vision (Low-Light, Darkvision etc) for the next hour.
  12. The drinker gains a fear aura (of equivalent level on the monster stats chart)
  13. When the escalation dice is odd, you can re-roll one d20 per turn.
  14. When the escalation dice is even you can max out one damage dice rolled.
  15. The player may re-roll one relationship dice this session
  16. The next time they roll a 6 on a relationship dice, its actually a 5.
  17. The drinker is healed to full hitpoints
  18. The drinker is reduced to 50% (if lower than 50% already no effect)
  19. Drinker is immune to petrification for the next hour.
  20. The drinker gains a +2 bonus to PD and MD during the next battle.
You should decide how many uses the fountain contains, and how often it refills (perhaps don't give everybody the opportunity - it might encourage tactical discussion) and whether the water can be bottled and taken away for use later.

Keep the suspense

I also strongly encourage you add some RP fluff when handing out the above effects - a +2 to a roll is ok, but pretty boring really. Tell the players they feel quicker and more alert than before, don't reveal the effect until they make the roll. This will help prevent the fountain from becoming a magical effect dispenser to an actual artefact worthy of reverence or fear.

Until next time.

*I make no assertion that mine is any better, it just suits my needs. 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Making 13th Age feel more 'Old School'

I've been thinking about and reading an increased amount of OSR games and adventures over the last couple of months, I didn't really 'get' OSR content until about a  year ago and when I got involved in the Next public test. I'll agree that Next isnt really an OSR game* but it certainly 'feels' oldschool or at least scratches an old school itch.  Its only been the last 6 months that my appetite for OSR content has increased and i really started to dig into the different options available.

They've got me thinking about what exactly makes a game feel old-school, and is 13th Age ticking all those boxes? If not all of them, how can i hack it to make do so?

Really old d&d had very simple classes and even races as a class, I think 13A is ok in respect to complexity, still pretty new school feeling but the abstraction of positions and movement changes things dramatically - it has its own blend of vanican casting and its done away with the standard resource system (AEDU) of 4th ed. Even the skill system in 13A is constructed around character concepts and storytelling, so I feel no need to tamper here either. I certainly don't want to have to make new classes or hack every one individually. Im really looking for some large dials and switches I can turn to tune the whole game.

So what can a I change that will tune the whole system universally? Healing. A lot of the old school feeling comes from the threat barometer. Early d&d was notably ruthless for example and the general scale of player power has traditionally increased through editions to the point where 4e had high fantasy 'heroic' heroes. So how can we dial back that mechanic to make 13A feel more inline? One of the major reasons I think 4E felt vastly different to older editions was the inclusion of healing surges and martial healing, I don't mind those mechanics but they're definitely new additions to the core game**

Do we need the concept of recoveries in 13A? There are powers that use them and I categorically don't want to hack the classes individually - but i'm happy to make a blanket change. Here what I propose -

  • You no-longer have recoveries to spend after fights and by rallying during a fight.
  • When you are asked to 'spend a recovery' by a power or item, you heal the amount a recovery would have been for your level.
  • A full rest will recover either all your HP, or sped the value of a recovery - depending on the GM's feelings.

By employing this system suddenly the threat level is ramped up, combine this with the focus on storytelling that 13A already brings and you've got much more of an OSR feel. The HP/Monster damage numbers are inflated in comparison to something like 0e - but its by a factory of 3 (a wizards starting HP is 6 x 3 + con, many OSR games have starting magic user at somewhere between 1d4 and 1d6 hp) i'm not going to change the numbers, I just see them as allowing me more granular modification of peoples HP through danger.

I'm sure there are lots of things that old schoolers will balk at (like damage on miss and more options in character creation) but most of it doesn't impact the game as much as that one simple change.

So what makes an OSR feeling game? Threat, and the limited tools to overcome it.

* or is it? I don't know anymore, since i've absorbed a high quantity of d20 games they all kinda blur into one - but i'm sure someone out there knows the answer for certain.
** I say core but I think they've all appeared in earlier editions in expansions and additions, just never the core system.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Roll20 Paizo style pawn tokens, downloadable.

As promised here is a .PSD (photoshop file for the uninitiated) for the Roll20 Paizo Pawns I made a week or so back - now available in Large!


Thursday, 26 September 2013

13th Age Fillable Character Sheets

Just a quicky, i'm not sure if there are any fillable character sheet pdf's already available - but just encase you there aren't or you haven't found them - I present to you some rather lovely sheets courtesy of +Ade Sant (i've been using them for my weekend Roll20 game, so I can testify they work a treat!)

You can grab the colour version here, and a printer friendly version here.

Have fun!

D20 Icons - Purple Worm

Each week I'll be taking a crack at converting some of the most iconic d20 monsters that, for one reason or another didn't appear in the awesome 13th Age Core rulebook. This week - Purple Worms

Purple Worm
Level 7 (Huge Beast)
Init: +10
HP: 324  AC: 23  PD: 20  MD: 16

Swallowing Bite : +12 vs PD (3 nearby enemies) 84 damage Natural even hit or miss: the target is swallowed and is stuck and hampered (save ends both), every time a save is failed the creature takes 52 acid damage.

Writhing burrowing : A purple worm travels by burrowing, when it fails a roll to get under ground it may re-roll and choose the second result.

Thrashing Tail : (When a melee attacks hits the Purple Worm) +12 vs AC, 36 damage and the target pops free.

: If you like this monster check out the other Iconic classic D&D monsters I've converted here :

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Roll20 Paizo Pawn Style Tokens

I've been playing on Roll20 recently with the awesome +Ade Sant and company, so naturaly my brain got thinking how I could create cool looking stuff for it. A bit of 3d Software and some Photoshopping plus an hour or two I came up with these:

I've made it so its a template setup, all you need to do is a quick google image search for the creature/npc you're looking for and insert it into a layer and boom, you're done. As always if there's interest i'll share the Photoshop file, but wont be able to share the art shown above - but a quick google search will do that for you.

Here they are 'in action' on Roll20 :

Im aware i've only got medium sized creatures here, i'll knock up a large variant tomorrow if I get time.

The only issue is when moving tokens infront/behind each other you might sometimes needs to send them to the front or back through a quick right click, but they do look good in play so I guess its down to you if you're willing to put up with it.

Anyways Happy gaming all.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

13th Age Hazard/Trap Table Aid

In my previous posts (here and here) where I gave some options for the creation of traps and hazards on the fly, I mentioned putting it in a pdf if there was interest - so I have. I've also put together a printer friendly version too. Grab them here

Let me know if you have any ideas on how to improve it or how you got on with it - until next time.

Friday, 20 September 2013

An awesome alternative to the initiative order.

Thought this was worth talking about, albeit briefly.

This is an awesome alternative to the standard initiative order I suggest you read it all, didn't? (you should) but basically everyone rolls initiative and then it is passed around between the players. Its very descriptive and story driven but is heavily waited towards the players, which is fine but i'd like to add more of a chance that a monster can interrupt  the flow for dramatic purposes.

Easiest way in my mind to do that is have everyone roll a D6 when they declare who the initiative will be going to next, if they roll 5-6 the initiative is passed to the GM to assign to a monster,  they then must roll a D6 in public before declaring who goes next and on a 5-6 the GM may choose another monster, anything else it goes to a Player.

Elements for Generating Traps on the Fly.

So 13th Age is an improvisation heavy game, or at least thats how the authors suggest it be played and how the main text suggests you play. Which is fine, but I know a lot of players prefer running pre scripted encounters and scenes, or at the very least like to have some concrete information to draw upon. And whilst the suggested numbers work fine, they lack a mechanical uniqueness that some players and GM's will miss. Thats half the reason i'm making my NPC Kit, to give me a set of tools to generate stuff at the table without having to pause or trip over myself if i'm drawing a blank.

I wrote a couple of posts about tactical gameplay and creating traps and hazards, and thought I would expand on that by providing some options to help generate traps with solid mechanics. I've presented them below a series of steps to creating a trap/hazard with some random tables too.

Step 1

Assign a Level and Name, make a note of all the baseline stats (you might need them later)

Step 2 

Choose a Trigger 
  1. When a creature moves nearby the trap make an attack against it.
  2. When a creature moves so it is now behind the trap make an attack against it.
  3. When a creature moves through an area the trap makes an attack against it.
  4. When a creature spends an action (choose Quick/Standard) on a trigger, such as a switch or lever the trap makes attacks against creatures nearby it. 
  5. When a creature spends an action (choose Quick/Standard) on a trigger, such as a switch or lever the trap makes an attack against a creature of your choice
  6. The trap rolls initiative and makes an attack against creatures nearby it.

Step 3

Create an attack 

A. Choose a Defence for the traps attack to target, in the examples below AB represents the Attack Bonus from the baseline stats you copied down earlier.
  1. AB vs. PD 
  2. AB vs. AC  
  3. AB vs. MD
B. Choose a triggered effect for the attack, the percentages represent a percentage of the Strike Damage value from the baseline stats.
  1. 100% damage and 50% ongoing damage. Miss: 50% ongoing damage.
  2. 125% damage, Natural even hit or Miss: The creatures pops free from all engaged creatures and is knocked down.
  3. The creature is stuck (save ends); Every time the target fails a saving throw they take 50% damage.
  4. 75% damage and the creature is affected by a condition (save ends)
  5. 100% damage, Natural 16+: Target loses 1 recovery.
  6. 75% damage, Natural even hit or miss: Make an additional attack against a different creature.
  7. A nearby creature is affected by a condition until the end of its next turn.
  8. A nearby creature is affected by a condition (save ends) the first time they fail a save they are affected by an additional condition.
  9. Nearby creatures are affected by a condition until the end of their next turn.
  10. Nearby creatures are affected by a condition (save ends) the first time they fail a save they are affected by an additional condition.
C. If during Step 1 you selected an option where the attack is against creatures decide how many, either a fixed number (2, 3, 4 etc) or a randomly generated one (d4, d6, d8 etc)

D. If during step B the target(s) of an attack is affected by a condition, choose from the following:

  1. Confused
  2. Dazed
  3. Hampered
  4. Stuck
  5. Stunned
  6. Vulnerable
  7. Weakened
  8. Fear
  9. Helpless
  10. Must make Last Gasp saves as they turn to stone/goo/another equally gruesome fate.

E. You're done, but repeat A-C if you want more attacks.

Step 4

Determine the difficulty required for any skill checks made to disable and spot it, if you want specific methods to be harder or easier record those too. 

Step 5

Fill in the blanks, if you want the trap to be destroyable give it AC, HP and PD - reserve MD for things like sentient traps and hazards. If you don't want it to be destroyed or immune just leave that stat blank. Also establish its initiative as per guidelines in the book, if it doesn't have initiative decide on the time it takes to reset

Finished! You should have enough information to run a trap in a scene/combat encounter as long as you paste a cool and creative skin on the mechanics or vice versa, spend some time thinking you're own up or roll on the lists above for on the fly situations.

Remember these charts are only really giving you a mechanical framework for the trap, make sure you add on cool elements of flavour, and thematic elements to tie it into your adventure. Also as a word of warning I would urge caution when using various conditions, its quite possible to cripple an entire party and possible get a TPK with a badly timed effect. 

Given enough interest I might put this info onto a nicely designed .pdf for use at the table, so let me know if you want it.